Domestic Violence Program

I’m just a regular person, and I believe regular people should take a stand against domestic violence. We need to add our voices in support of survivors. And so, I do.
A DCVLP volunteer lawyer on representing victims in court

DCVLP volunteers protect domestic violence survivors and their children by obtaining civil protection orders (or “stay-away” orders), as well as favorable custody and divorce orders, on their behalf.

Civil Protection Orders

DCVLP volunteers help survivors of domestic violence achieve safety and stability in their lives by obtaining civil protection orders (CPOs) against their abusers (also known as “stay-away” orders).

CPO cases in DC Superior Court are handled as emergency proceedings to ensure the safety of the petitioner and her children. CPOs order the abuser not to harm or harass the victim. They may also grant temporary custody and child support to the victim, and order the abuser to obtain counseling for domestic violence or drug abuse.

Representing a domestic violence victim in a CPO case is an excellent opportunity to gain in-court, supervised litigation experience in a very short time. CPO cases typically require 15 hours of work over a period of only two weeks.

To Volunteer: If you are an attorney interested in volunteering on a CPO case, please submit your volunteer registration form, then email Melina Benitez at for information on trainings.

Family Law

They say it takes a domestic violence victim seven tries to leave her abuser. When DCVLP represents domestic violence survivors in family law cases, they have made the decision to leave their abuser for good.

Most of DCVLP’s family law clients have already obtained temporary relief through a civil protection order. Volunteers then help the client obtain a more lasting separation from the abusive relationship, through a permanent divorce or custody arrangement that will protect the client and her children from harm.

Volunteering on a family law case is a great opportunity for volunteers seeking experience in civil litigation. Family law cases involve a full range of litigation tasks, including discovery, negotiation, motions practice, and often trial.

To Volunteer: If you are an attorney interested in volunteering on a family law case, please submit your volunteer registration form, then email us at for information on trainings.


To hear the stories of volunteers and clients, please view the video below.