Our clients are survivors of domestic violence who cannot afford legal representation.  If they are indigent, the victims who contact Partners may have been turned away from government-funded legal service agencies due to lack of attorneys and other resources.  If they work, salaries earned by the survivors who call Partners place them above the official poverty line, but realistically, they do not have the money for protracted court battles. They may work as teacher’s aides, sales clerks, or secretaries – all low-paying jobs that barely cover the basic necessities for themselves and their children, let alone the costs of a court battle involving legal fees that can run, at the low end, $250 an hour. 

Our legal system has made no provision for those who cannot pay a lawyer yet do not qualify for representation by other legal service agencies.  Even more serious, a person who owes child support is entitled to representation by a lawyer, because of the threat of jail for failure to pay child support (Pasqua v. Council, 186 N.J. 127 (2006)), but the person asking for child support is not entitled to the same guarantee of representation, because s/he is not faced with the possibility of jail time. 

Without the various types of legal assistance Partners provides, many of the survivors we serve would have no choice but to go into family court without legal advice of any kind and without knowing their rights under the law.  Many are caught in abusive relationships but have trouble leaving their abusers because of financial dependency or because they have children in common.   Our pro bono attorneys help our clients secure protective orders, orders for fair child support awards and safe visitation and custody arrangements.  As important, they empower survivors to assert control over their lives and take steps to protect themselves and their children.