As part of a collaboration with South Coastal Counties Legal Services, Inc. (SCCLS) and five other domestic violence programs, Independence House obtains consultations and services for cases which involve children with jurisdictional custodial issues, housing and immigration concerns such as the U Visa which gives victims of certain crimes temporary legal status and work eligibility in the U.S.
The Legal Assistance to Victims (LAV) grant was awarded in the Spring of 2014 to SCCLS. The initiative is referred to as The Legal Intervention for Survivors of Abuse Project (LISA Project). SCCLS collaborates with six domestic violence agencies throughout Southeastern Mass and Nantucket. A Safe Place in Nantucket, SStar Women’s Center in Fall River, The Women’s Center in New Bedford, Family Community Resources in Brockton, South Shore Women’s Center in Plymouth and Independence House with 4 locations on Cape Cod will all increase services for survivors over the next three years as part of the grant. Survivors without financial resources are encouraged to use these services. Appointments for one-on-one legal clinics must be pre-scheduled.
Since 2011, a dedicated pro-bono Independence House volunteer group of attorneys also offer one-on-one legal clinics to Independence House clients on a variety of family law topics such as paternity, divorce, custody, visitation and child support.
Additionally, Independence House SAFEPLAN civil legal court advocates are available in Barnstable Probate and District Courts, as well as Orleans and Falmouth District courts. These civil legal advocates offer assistance to victims of domestic and sexual violence and stalking who are seeking relief from abuse and harassment in the form of abuse prevention orders (209A) or harassment prevention orders (258E). Advocates also provide safety assessments, crisis intervention, personalized safety planning and referrals to resources and additional support services at Independence House and in the community.
An active legal committee also meets regularly to evaluate victim’s needs and continue the expansion of legal services for clients of Independence House as appropriate.