No Cost Legal Assistance – Legal Advocates are available to discuss your immediate legal options with you, and a plan to address longer term legal needs such as divorce, custody, child support and other legal issues.  Financial resources may be available, through CFVC, to assist in payment for legal services, to include civil legal representation in the areas of contempt issues, divorces, child support, custody and other civil matters.  In addition there may be financial assistance available to pay for filing fees, service fees, transcripts, copy fees, or translation.  Legal Advocates can also provide you with a Pro Se Divorce Packet which will offer you direction and guidance if you want to file for a divorce on your own.

Temporary Protective Order – Legal Advocates are certified by the Court to provide assistance in filing Temporary Protective Orders (TPOs) which provide relief from the Court in the form of an emergency order.  TPOs are designed to limit the contact an abusive person is allowed to have with a victim.  The document can also address who lives where, who drives what car, who has custody of mutual minor children, can establish financial support and/or child visitation, can require an abuser to seek mental health or substance abuse treatment or require attendance at Family Violence Intervention Program (FVIP), among other forms of relief.  Legal Advocates provide victims with the documents needed to file for TPOs and assist victims as they prepare their case for court.

Documenting the Abuse – Legal Advocates can develop a written description of abuse, take photographs of physical injuries, and can copy and/or hold physical documentation of abuse including audio or video recordings, medical records, text messages, emails or social networking contacts.  Legal Advocates will advocate with Law Enforcement and other community stakeholders to develop a paper trail to document abuse.

Law Enforcement & Court Advocacy – Legal Advocates can provide information about additional legal systems including Law Enforcement, Prosecution, Probation, and Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) and will assist victims with concerns around these systems by educating and advocating, on behalf of victims with those systems, ensuring safety needs are met, and addressing each victims’ goals.

Crime Victims Compensation Assistance – Legal Advocates can provide assistance in completing an application for Crime Victims Compensation issued through the State of Georgia, designed to assist victims and their families through the emotional and physical aftermath of a crime.  The program provides financial benefits and reimbursements for expenses including medical bills, mental health counseling, loss of support and/or earnings, and other incidentals related to victimization.

Emotional Support – CFVC uses a trauma-informed approach to help victims identify their self-sufficiency goals and the necessary resources to achieve those goals as well as providing emotional support and identifying strategies to overcome obstacles.  Legal Advocates and Legal Program volunteers offer one-on-one meetings to discuss victim needs, and are available to accompany victims to court through civil and criminal proceedings.

Lethality Assessment – Some batterers are life-endangering.  While it is true that all batterers are dangerous, some are more likely to kill than others and some are more likely to kill at specific times.  Legal Advocates are trained to assist victims in identifying factors that indicate increased likelihood of lethal violence, including threats and/or fantasies of homicide and/or suicide, access to weapons, depression, “ownership” of a victim, access to a victims’ support network and/or family, separation or impending end of the relationship, drug and/or alcohol abuse, repeated calls to Law Enforcement, pet abuse, hostage taking, and escalation of abuse.

Safety Planning – Safety planning is at the heart of the work we do with all victims who have experienced abuse.  Legal Advocates will discuss each client’s individual safety concerns, probe for lethality indicators and inform the client of available resources and support.  CFVC acts as a resource for developing safety strategies but acknowledges that the client is the best resource concerning her own safety and CFVC’s role is to support her in her goals for safety, whether that is to leave her abuser, reunite with him or to stay in the relationship.

Victim Liaison Services – CFVC conducts victim contacts and periodic safety checks for victims whose abuser is attending a contracted, Family Violence Intervention Program (FVIP).  A Victim Liaison will notify a victim of their offender’s enrollment in the certified program, provides status updates and safety planning, notifies the victim of the offender’s successful or unsuccessful discharge from FVIP, and when requested will provide feedback to the FVIP program about any concerns the victim has about the offender’s behavior.

In addition to the legal advocacy offered by this department, you will have access to the full range of services that Cherokee Family Violence Center offers.  This includes access to 24-hour emotional support through our Crisis Line, in-person Crisis Counseling, Emergency Shelter, Long–term Supportive Housing, Support Groups, classes on dynamics of Intimate Partner Violence, and advocacy and referrals to other community resources.