Family Law

Prevent Domestic Violence this October

October is a month used to increase awareness and decrease domestic violence across the nation. Nationally, each year women experience 4.8 million intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes. In Utah, there is approximately one intimate partner homicide every 22 days (Utah Government Services). However, the above statistics don’t illustrate the severity of this problem. According to, “The Justice Gap” about 75% of domestic violence cases in Utah are not reported to authorities and victims are left to suffer in silence. It is estimated one in every three Utah women will experience some form of domestic violence in her lifetime. “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” partner agencies, Utah Legal Services (ULS) and Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake (LAS) strive to help those who are suffering receive the protection they so desperately need and deserve through protective orders. In a recent national study, protective orders have been found to be the most effective way to put a stop to domestic violence, more than sheltering or counseling services. However, while most of the victims of domestic violence are female, one in four men will also experience violence. Utah Legal Services (ULS) helps many young men, like Shyam, fight for this deserved protection; here is Shyam’s story: Shyam was an immigrant from India who had been dealing with ongoing physical abuse from his estranged wife and her father for over a year. The abuse did not stop at these two individuals but often involved his wife’s friends as well. One of these attacks preformed by her friend was so brutal that it landed Shyam in the hospital, and eventually reduced him to living in his car with the constant fear for his life. Regardless of the attackers consistent threats that if he involved police he would become involved with immigration issues, Shyam decided that it was time to stand up for the protection that he deserved. Shyam filed for protective orders against his estranged wife and her father but the court did not grant either of these orders. Regardless of his wife’s’ confession of abuse they found that Shyam’s father-in-law was not a Read More »

PRESS RELEASE: “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” Announces Full-Time Legal Fellowship Serving Summit County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Park City, Utah (September 23, 2015) “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” (AJFA), the Utah nonprofit uniting the state’s primary providers of civil legal aid – Disability Law Center, Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake, and Utah Legal Services – is very pleased to announce that it has secured $10,000 in  funding for Park City’s first full-time legal fellow dedicated to providing free civil legal aid to the poor and victims of domestic violence in Park City. AJFA’s Legal Fellowship Program was launched to simultaneously address two very pressing issues in Utah. First, it helps to address the ‘Justice Gap,’ in which a majority (80%) of low-income Utahns do not have access to an attorney when they most need one, though 67.5% of them will experience a civil legal dispute in any given year.  Second, too many young lawyers are un-or under-employed and need professional legal experience to jump-start their careers. Under supervision of a seasoned Utah Legal Services attorney, the Park City Fellow will not only manage the entire protective order calendar for domestic violence victims, but will also work to bolster relationships with Summit County attorneys to promote greater pro-bono involvement and conduct outreach to promote greater awareness about the legal resources available to Summit County low-income populations. A recent national think tank found representation by an attorney in protective order cases to be the best way to prevent domestic violence, while also saving states millions in the process.  In addition to domestic violence issues, it is anticipated that the Fellow will provide free legal services in other legal areas as well, including landlord tenant disputes and immigration issues. The AJFA Park City Fellowship is possible through the generous collaborative effort of the Park City Bar Association, Park City Foundation, Nutraceutical Corporation, the Park City Rotary Foundation and the law firm of Wrona Gordon & DuBois.  The Law Firm of Dodd & Kuendig has generously donated the in-kind desk space to house the Fellow. Scott DuBois, an AJFA Leadership Committee Member and member of the Board of Directors for the Park City Bar Association, helped lead the fundraising effort.  Mr. DuBois Read More »

Report: Legal help cuts incidence of domestic violence, saves money

(This is a repost of an original Deseret News article published on August 14, 2015 by Marjorie Cortez) SALT LAKE CITY — Free or low-cost legal services for people seeking protective orders would reduce incidence of domestic violence and lower associated societal costs, a new report states. The Institute for Policy Integrity report found that victims are more likely to receive protective orders if they have legal representation. The report, “Supporting Survivors: The Economic Benefits of Providing Civil Legal Aid to Survivors of Domestic Violence,” also found that the availability of civil legal aid may be “even more effective than alternative interventions such as the provision of shelters and counseling services.” Stewart Ralphs, executive director of Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake, said the report confirms family law attorneys’ long-held perceptions that protective orders curb domestic violence and enhance safety. “We have intuitively known this for decades, and it’s heartening to see that studies confirm our belief that access to a free lawyer for victims of domestic violence truly does reduce domestic violence in our community,” Ralphs said. Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake is a nonprofit civil legal aid agency that helps child and adult victims of domestic violence obtain protective orders and stalking injunctions for free regardless of income. While it does not have the resources to track clients long-term, Ralphs said the agency contacts clients one year after a court has granted them a protective order. Ninety-one percent report there has been no further abuse and 95 percent report feeling safer. Meanwhile, 69 percent of clients reported that their household incomes had remained stable or increased. Legal Aid Society and partner agency Utah Legal Services, a nonprofit law office that performs a variety of civil legal services for people with low incomes, helped 3,687 individuals and 9,068 dependents escape abuse in Salt Lake City in 2014. While the law offices’ primary role is to provide legal advice and represent clients in court, the agencies are also a “gateway” to other agencies that provide services that can help families experiencing interpersonal violence. “It’s extremely rare when a victim of domestic Read More »