The Legal Advocacy Project provides free, comprehensive legal services for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors and their families with legal issues in the areas of immigration and family law.
This list is not exhaustive. If you are a survivor and are in need of legal services, please contact our offices or fill out this form to connect with our LAP team. Anyone can be a victim of sexual or domestic violence. We serve survivors of all gender identities, sexual orientations, races, and religions in Los Angeles County.
Types of services
If you are an immigrant victim of sexual assault and domestic violence, Legal Advocacy Project can help you to assess what immigration relief you might qualify for.
VAWA: Violence Against Women Act
The VAWA self-petition is available to victims of extreme cruelty or battery at the hands of their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouses, parents, or children. Through VAWA, you may be eligible to file a petition for immigration status without your abuser's assistance or knowledge.
Generally, in order to qualify as a VAWA self-petitioner, you must show that:
- You have a qualifying relationship with an abusive U.S. citizen or LPR;
- You had a good faith marriage (if the petition is based on a spousal relationship);
- You were subject to battery or extreme cruelty by the the U.S. citizen or LPR;
- You resided with the abuser; and,
- You are a person of good moral character.
These are the general requirements for a VAWA self-petition and do not address any complicated immigration issues that may apply to you. If you are a victim of battery or extreme cruelty by a spouse, parent, or child, please contact our LAP team at email@example.com.
The U-Visa is a temporary visa that is available for victims of specific types of crime. Generally, in order to qualify for a U-visa, you must show that:
- You were a victim of a qualifying crime;
- The crime occurred in the U.S. or violated the laws of the U.S.;
- You were, are, or are likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and
- You suffered substantial physical or mental harm as a result of having been a victim of that crime.
These are the general requirements for a U-visa and do not address any complicated immigration issues that may apply to you. If you were the victim of a crime, please contact our LAP team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is available to some of those who entered the United States as children and have remained since. Generally, in order to qualify you must show:
- Were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of application;
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have your GED, or were honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have no serious criminal history.
These are the general requirements for DACA and do not address any complicated immigration issues that may apply to you. If you believe you may be eligible for DACA, please contact our LAP team at email@example.com for more information.
The T-Visa is available for victims of trafficking, both domestic and international.
Generally, in order to qualify for a T-visa, you must show that:
- You are a victim of trafficking, as defined by law;
- You are physically present in the U.S., a U.S. territory, or a port of entry due to trafficking;
- You complied with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking crime; and,
- You resided with the abuser; and,
- You would suffer extreme hardship involving severe and unusual harm if removed from the U.S.
These are the general requirements for a T-visa and do not address any complicated immigration issues that may apply to you. If you are a victim of sex or labor trafficking, please contact our LAP team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other available immigration services: the LAP team provides additional immigration services than those listed above, including: naturalization, Adjustment of Status (Green Card) applications, I-751 applications for conditional residents, and other ancillary applications. Please contact our LAP team at email@example.com for more information.
Know Your Rights: Click here to download Common Immigration Remedies for DV/SA Survivors.
PLEASE NOTE: Immigration laws continuously change. If you have any specific questions about any immigration issue, please consult an Immigration Attorney or call our offices. For more information, please see United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
You have certain family law rights regardless of your immigration status.
These rights include child custody and visitation, establishing parentage, child support and spousal support, divorce, and legal separation.
California is a “no fault” divorce state, which means there is no need to provide proof that either spouse did something wrong in order to get a divorce. You do not need the other party to cooperate with the divorce process.
The Legal Advocacy Project helps to permanently end a legal marriage and/or registered domestic partnership and to establish rights to community and separate property for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
If you are interested in filing for divorce or would like more information about your rights during divorce proceedings, please contact the LAP team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-divorce.htm
Child Visitation & Custody
In California, each parent has a right to share physical and legal custody of their minor child. Although there is a presumption of joint custody, there are circumstances where the court can vary the custody arrangement. This is often true when the court finds that the other parent has committed domestic violence in the last five years. The parties may reach their own custody and visitation agreement, but the judge can make the final decision.
The Legal Advocacy Project provides services to request custody and visitation rights of minor children and modify current orders depending on the circumstances of the case.
For assistance with child visitation and custody, or for more information about your rights, please contact the LAP team at email@example.com.
For more information: http://www.courts.ca.gov/17975.htm
The Legal Advocacy Project helps parents with initial requests for support orders for minor children, including health and child care expenses. LAP can also help with requests to modify current orders for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
If you require assistance filing for child support or modifying a current order, please contact the LAP team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information, visit: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-support.htm
The Legal Advocacy Project helps survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault who are separated from their partner to get initial orders for spousal or partner support (including health insurance) as well as assists with requests to modify orders.
For more information: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1038.htm
The Legal Advocacy Projects helps survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault with Petitions to Establish Paternal Relationships and or respond/defend against Petitions to Establish Paternal Relationships. The Legal Advocacy Project also assists with paternity issues in divorce cases.
If you have concerns regarding establishing paternity, please contact the LAP team at email@example.com.
For further information visit: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-parentage.htm
A restraining order or a “protective order” is a court order that can protect someone from being physically or sexually abused, threatened, stalked, or harassed.
A domestic violence restraining order may be obtained against a spouse or former spouse, a cohabitant or former cohabitant, a person with whom the survivor is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship, or a person with whom the survivor has had a child. Most commonly, domestic violence restraining orders are filed immediately following a domestic violence incident. However, that is not always the case. A domestic violence restraining order can be filed at any time if a survivor fears for their safety and the safety of their family due to having been threatened, harassed or stalked.
Emergency Protective Order (EPO)
If a police officer responds to a domestic violence call, depending on the severity of the case and/or the safety of the survivors, the police officer might be able to request an EPO from a judge or a commissioner. The EPO protection can last anywhere between 3 to 7 days.
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
A TRO or a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) is a short-term civil order issued by a state court judge. The TRO must be served upon the respondent (opposing party) to give the respondent notice of the TRO terms and time to respond at the Permanent Restraining Order hearing. The TRO cannot be served by a person who is a party to the case and he/she must be over the age of 18. Proof of service must be filed with the court at least 5 days before the Permanent Restraining Order hearing. A TRO is valid for up to 25-30 days.
Permanent Restraining Order or Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)
When a TRO is granted, a hearing date date is set for a Permanent Restraining Order. Both parties present themselves in front of a state court judge. The judge grants or denies the protective order and decides how long it shall remain in effect, typically ranging from 1-5 years.
If you are a survivor of domestic violence or sexual abuse and would like assistance in filing for a restraining order or have questions about the process, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1264.htm
LEGAL ADVOCACY FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS
In court and disciplinary hearings, officials often neglect to provide appropriate protections for the rights of survivors. For sexual assault survivors, the Legal Advocacy Project provides information about civil legal remedies and about the criminal and civil legal process.
The Legal Advocacy Project with the help of law students and volunteer attorneys provide legal services on a volunteer basis to a variety of communities in the greater Los Angeles area. Clinic volunteers meet with clients, screen them for their needs, and provide support with their initial step of the petition guiding them through the process.