Client Services
The DCVLP provides legal services in three project areas:

Domestic Violence Project

The DCVLP helps survivors of domestic violence achieve safety and stability in their lives.  DCVLP attorneys represent survivors in actions to obtain civil protection (“stay away”) orders against their abusers, and help them achieve independence by assisting with divorce, custody, child support and immigration matters.

Child Advocacy Project

DCVLP attorneys give a voice to children in high-conflict custody cases by acting as Guardians Ad Litem (GAL).  In these cases, the GAL represents the best interests of the child and provides the court with an independent assessment of the issues in the case.  Many of these children have already been through the trauma of their parents’ breakup, or have witnessed or been the victim of violence in their home.  The GAL provides the child with an opportunity to express his or her wishes about the custody arrangement without the child having to appear in court.  The GAL also assesses if the child is at risk and whether any safety measures should be implemented, determines if the child requires any services, and makes recommendations to the court about custody and visitation arrangements that would be best for the child.

Foster Parent & Caregiver Project

DCVLP attorneys represents foster parents caring for children whose biological parents have abandoned, neglected or abused them.  The DCVLP is the only organization in Washington, DC, that provides the full spectrum of legal representation to foster parents.  The DCVLP partners with FAPAC (Foster and Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center) to provide legal representation to foster parents in the following areas:

  • Adoption and Guardianship:  Many foster parents seek to adopt, or become guardians for, their foster children to give them a permanent, stable and loving home.  DCVLP attorneys represent foster parents in adoption and guardianship actions in court.
  • Placement Decisions: Though foster parents often have the most intimate knowledge of their foster child’s needs, the court or agency deciding the child’s permanent family placement or required services often fails to obtain the foster parents’ input.  DCVLP attorneys help foster parents to advocate for proper placement and services for their foster children.
  • Licensure and Regulatory Issues:  Foster parents are subject to many regulations regarding their licenses and the care of foster children in their homes.  DCVLP attorneys represent foster parents in administrative appeals before the licensing agency in matters related to the maintenance of their foster parent licenses.  DCVLP attorneys also represent foster parents who seek to challenge an agency’s decision to remove a child from their homes.
DCVLP attorneys also represent third-party caregivers -- such as grandparents or other relatives -- who want to provide a stable, loving environment for the children in their care.  DCVLP attorneys represent these caregivers in custody proceedings.
DC Volunteer Lawyers Project   •   5335 Wisconsin Ave, NW, Suite 440   •   Washington, DC 20015   •   202-885-5542
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