The Center for Family Safety and Healing (TCFSH) collaborates with various community partners to address all forms of family violence and restore hope. Because there are often complex elements involved in family violence (a shared home, children, pets, protection orders), we direct clients in need of legal assistance to Capital University Law School’s Family Advocacy Clinic.
Capital University Law’s Professor of Clinical Studies and Supervising Attorney, Lorie McCaughan, sheds light on the importance of representing victims and understanding their trauma.
“I think we have developed an expertise in working with people who have come to us with issues related to domestic violence. We understand that these issues will present themselves in many different ways. You can try to learn it through a text book, but it takes many years to truly get an understanding of abusive dynamics, and how these can deeply affect a victim’s life,” McCaughan said.
The Family Advocacy Clinic was founded in 2000, and is designed to provide legal assistance or representation to victims of domestic violence who cannot afford to hire private counsel. The two-part clinic, which is funded by TCFSH, includes a Civil Protection Unit and a Child Custody Unit.
In the Civil Protection Unit, law students and staff attorneys are able to assist victims in obtaining protection orders against their abuser. This unit is staffed by three full-time attorneys and two victim advocates, who work in conjunction with the City of Columbus Prosecutor’s Office Domestic Violence and Stalking Unit. Staff may also assist clients with housing needs, employment and divorce or dissolution proceedings.
“Around 2,000 domestic violence civil protection orders are filed per year in Franklin County,” McCaughan said. “We also see thousands of companion protection orders being filed. This refers to couples who are not married and do not live together. It’s important to note that a domestic violence civil protection order refers to a family member or partner living within the same household.”
The Child Custody Unit provides legal representation to victims of domestic violence where child custody can be contested. Two full-time attorneys in this unit assist clients with domestic relations and juvenile court cases.
McCaughan noted that the Family Advocacy Clinic assisted approximately 300 people with representation in 2017. Additionally, the clinic provided 725 people with brief advice, counseling and safety planning.
The Family Advocacy Clinic partners closely with the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, CHOICES domestic violence shelter, Franklin County and the Columbus City Attorney’s Office.
To inquire about legal services, call 614-236-6779. For assistance with a domestic violence civil protection order, individuals may go directly to the Domestic Violence Unit (17th floor) of the Municipal Court building – 373 N. High St. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or to the Civil Protection Order Pro Se Help Desk, also at 373 N. High St., from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Capital Law Family Advocacy Clinic
303 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Legal Aid Society of Columbus
1108 City Park Avenue
Columbus, OH 43206
Pro Bono Clinic Schedule: https://www.columbuslegalaid.org/get-involved/attorney/pro-bono-clinics/
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