Representing Survivors of Domestic Abuse
September/October 2018
Ending an abusive relationship often requires litigation and that is where we can help.

Legal Aid of Western Michigan (LAWM) represents survivors of domestic abuse in divorce litigation. Sometimes this means filing a Complaint for Divorce to start divorce proceedings. Other times this means filing an Answer to a Complaint for Divorce filed by the other party. When LAWM represents a client in a divorce, we provide full representation – appearing in court, handling discovery and drafting documents.

LAWM also represents survivors of domestic abuse in defending custody of their minor children. Sometimes this occurs within a divorce case. Other times, when the parties are not married, this litigation may occur within a paternity, custody or child support case.

Our clients often seek Personal Protection Orders from the Court to prevent further abuse from their former partners. If their Personal Protection Order is challenged in court, LAWM is often able to go to court with our client to defend the order and keep it in place.

As a grant-funded nonprofit, LAWM clients must meet our income and asset guidelines. Those interested in applying for LAWM's services can contact us to be screened for eligibility.
Meeting Clients Where They Are

Twice each month, LAWM attorney Dolores Trese spends her mornings at the Center for Women in Transition. Thanks to LAWM’s partnership with the Center, survivors of domestic abuse are able to meet with a LAWM attorney in a place where they are comfortable and where they are already receiving services. Ms. Trese screens clients for possible representation by a LAWM attorney and provides helpful legal information during those meetings. LAWM has similar partnerships with other agencies addressing domestic abuse in other counties.
A 28 year old mother of two boys came to Legal Aid of Western Michigan for help with a divorce. At 21 years old she married her high school sweetheart. However, he was very unstable and prone toward violence. He drank too much and had several alcohol related encounters with the police, including three drunk driving charges.

Throughout their marriage he would assault the mother by pulling her hair and pushing her down. He called her offensive and degrading names in front of the children. Because of the violence in their home, Children's Protective Services became involved with the family.

The mother thought she could do the divorce on her own while the husband was in jail for drunk driving, but the father was released from jail before the divorce was finalized. He then hired an attorney and filed for custody of the boys. Legal Aid helped the mother finish the divorce and made sure she was awarded custody and the appropriate amount of child support.
We are excited to announce that we are expanding our Donuts & The Law series to our whole service area. We will be offering these FREE trainings for service providers on a bi-monthly schedule in Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon,
St. Joseph & Big Rapids. Kalamazoo will continue to offer monthly trainings. These trainings offer legal information on a variety of topics, often that correspond to the theme of our newsletters. If you would like more information, please e-mail
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