Legal AdvocacyFor Those In Need
Find out more about legal services that may be right for you.
Legal Advocacy Program
AVDA’s Legal Advocacy Program consists of nine staff attorney/paralegal teams who provide free legal representation in family law matters to victims of domestic violence in Austin, Grimes,Harris, Fort Bend, Waller and Washington County courts. We have attorneys who are dedicated to obtaining protective orders, and others who focus on divorce, child support, child custody and adoption. Clients may be eligible for both services.
Most of AVDA’s clients have income that qualifies them for traditional legal aid (no more than 187% of the federal poverty guidelines). AVDA’s Expanded Legal Services Program consists of a “working poor” legal team, dedicated to serving victims who earn too much to qualify for traditional legal aid, yet too little to afford a quality, trauma-informed attorney. Clients who are served by the Expanded Legal Services Program will be asked to help pay court costs and fees, but will not be charged for representation. It is AVDA’s intent that no victim is kept from quality legal services simply because of the inability to pay.
At any given time, AVDA attorneys are representing some 200+ victims of domestic violence. In general, clients must meet the following criteria to be eligible for services, but are encouraged to call AVDA at 713-224-9911 and speak with an Advocate to ensure eligibility:
- The individual has experienced a pattern of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse by his/her partner in the past few years and/or has minor children who have been physically/sexually abused by the intimate partner.
- Texas law requires that, in filing for a divorce, one of the parties must have (1) resided in Texas for six months AND (2) in the county where the action is filed for the preceding three months before billing. AVDA therefore represents only Austin, Grimes, Harris, Fort Bend, Waller, and Washington county residents and/or abuse victims whose partners meet these residency requirements. AVDA’s legal services are available to all residents of these counties without regard to citizenship status.
- Applicants for services must know where the respondent lives and works or be able to obtain this information, so that the respondent can be notified in person of the pending legal action.
- The individual’s partner cannot be a current or recent participant in AVDA’s Battering Intervention & Prevention Program (BIPP) without both parties signing a Waiver of Conflict, as this poses a conflict-of-interest for our attorneys.
- While Protective Orders are available regardless of income level, FREE legal representation for other legal services is available for individuals who are at or below 187% of the federal poverty level in our traditional legal aid program, and for individuals up to 400% of the federal poverty level in our “working poor program”. In determining financial status, AVDA considers gross employment and public benefits income, property and other assets, and we deduct for childcare expenses. Contact AVDA Advocates to explore your eligibility for legal options.
AVDA recognizes that our clients often need services beyond legal representation to achieve safety and self-sufficiency for themselves and their children. Legal clients also have access to a variety of free services at AVDA, including:
- Counseling for themselves and their children (Harris County only)
- Client Emergency Financial Assistance
- Education and Training Fund
- Safety Planning
- Information and Referral
- Crime Victims Compensation assistance
The Emergency Financial Assistance fund is provided through the generosity of the National Council of Jewish Women – Houston Section.
For more information, call AVDA at 713-224-9911. Office hours are generally 8 am – 5 pm. Monday-Friday.
Safety alert: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid that your internet or computer usage might be monitored, use a safer computer, call your local hotline, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
1001 Texas Ave., Suite 600 Houston, TX 77002
F: 713-715-6935 | 713-715-6945
1001 Texas Ave., Suite 600 Houston, TX 77002 P: 713-224-9911 F: 713-715-6935 | 713-715-6945