Low-Income Women in Abusive Marriages in Beaver, Butler Counties Can Now Get Free Legal Help through ‘New Beginnings’ Program
Thursday, January 19, 2017
- Organization: Allegheny County Bar Foundation
Allegheny County Bar Foundation Expands Program into Neighboring Counties
Many women are trapped in abusive marriages because they can’t afford the legal representation needed in to navigate the divorce process. The Allegheny County Bar Foundation aims to help women in these situations through its New Beginnings program.
Through the program, ACBF staff and volunteer attorneys provide free legal representation to women with very low incomes who have experienced abuse in their marriages and wish to be divorced in order to move on with their lives. The program has been in place in Allegheny County for decades and is now expanding into Beaver and Butler Counties.
“It is tragic that so many women in our community feel trapped in abusive marriages simply because they don’t have the financial resources to hire an attorney,” said Barbara Griffin, director of the ACBF Pro Bono Center. “We have successfully helped hundreds of women in Allegheny County escape these situations, but until now, there have been few resources to help low-income women in the surrounding counties.”
The program’s expansion into Beaver and Butler counties is possible thanks to a $20,000 grant from the FISA Foundation.
“We are extremely grateful to the FISA Foundation for the providing the funds necessary to allow us to help people in need,” said Griffin. “This generosity is making such a big difference in the lives of women in our community.”
The project will serve vulnerable individuals who currently have little or no access to free legal services for divorce. The basic eligibility requirements are as follows. To be eligible, applicants must:
- Be a female resident of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, or Lawrence County for at least 6 months.
- Have experienced physical or emotional abuse in her marriage as evidenced by the applicant having sought or been granted a Protection from Abuse order; by criminal charges for domestic violence filed against the applicant’s spouse; or by the client’s self-identification.
- Have a household income at 125% of the federal poverty level or below.
- Be willing to proceed as a simple divorce with no claims for equitable distribution or custody. Other legal aid, pro bono, or reduced-fee services may be available for child support and child custody matters.
Attorneys’ services will be provided at no charge. The ACBF will seek permission from the courts for our clients to proceed in forma pauperis so that court filing fees will be waived.
Those interested in applying for help through the project should call 412-402-6714. For more information, visit www.PittsburghProBono.org/NewBeginnings.asp.
About the ACBF
Known as “The Heart of Pittsburgh’s Legal Community,” the ACBF provides educational programming, promotes public awareness of the legal and judicial systems, renders legal services to low-income clients and provides financial assistance and grants to legal-related organizations. The foundation’s Pro Bono Center helps attorneys fulfill their professional responsibility to provide public interest legal services by creating, managing, and supporting programs that match volunteer attorneys with low-income individuals facing legal issues that threaten their basic human needs. For more information, visit www.PittsburghProBono.org.
About the FISA Foundation
The mission of FISA Foundation is to build a culture of respect and improve the quality of life for three populations in southwestern Pennsylvania: women, girls and people with disabilities. For over 100 years, FISA has been led by women and focused on responding to unmet community needs. Originally founded in 1911 by an organization that became known as the Federation of Independent School Alumnae to improve the lives of poor and working class women, the organization underwent a metamorphosis over the years. In 1956, to meet the needs of people with disabilities, the Federation converted its convalescent home into Harmarville Rehabilitation Center, which became recognized internationally for excellence and innovation. In 1996, Harmarville was sold and the FISA Foundation was established to continue the charitable work of the Federation in southwestern Pennsylvania region. Learn more about FISA at www.fisafoundation.org