Metrowest Legal Services –Family Law
Our Family Law Unit provides legal services to victims or survivors of domestic violence. We make sure clients have the resources they need to keep themselves and their children safe and secure.
Domestic violence (also referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV), dating abuse, or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.
Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. People of any race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, education level, or economic status can be a victim — or perpetrator — of domestic violence. That includes behaviors that physically harm, intimidate, manipulate or control a partner, or otherwise force them to behave in ways they don’t want to, including through physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, or financial control.
The mission of the Family Law Unit is to provide legal assistance and representation to low-income victims and survivors of domestic violence to restore them and their children to an economically sustainable life free of abuse.
We can help with:
- Restraining Orders
- Custody and Visitation
- Child Support
- Name Change Petitions
In addition, through our Private Bar Involvement (PBI) Program, local private attorneys volunteer their services to assist MWLS clients in family law matters, including uncontested divorces, guardianships, and paternity cases.
Due to limited capacity, we do not handle cases that involve child support only. If you have questions regarding child support only please scroll down to some links you may find helpful.
24 Hour Domestic Violence hotline
Mass Legal Help
There may be other free resources available. Check the Links section on our website to find information specific to your legal problem.
No. Due to budget and staffing constraints, not everyone gets access to a MWLS lawyer. Many clients are given advice only or brief service, or are referred to another agency if their legal problem does not fall within our priorities. MWLS has a Pro Bono panel where private lawyers in the community volunteer to accept cases within our program priorities. Applicants must still meet the same financial guidelines as MWLS in-house services. Referrals for pro bono services are made through our office.
If you are over-income, you may contact the Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service or the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service. You will be referred to an attorney convenient to your home or office, practicing in the area of law you need.
Yes. MWLS has staff fluent in Spanish and Portuguese as well as access to interpreters for clients who speak other languages.
No. MWLS provides these services free of charge.
An intake is a call or in-person meeting with MWLS staff to provide more detail your legal problem. Your information is then given to the appropriate advocate who will then contact you directly.
An intake worker will conduct a screening interview over the phone. We collect basic information during these screening interviews to help us confirm whether you are eligible and if we can help.
All information that you give us, either online, in person, or by phone, is kept confidential.
At Apply for Legal Help, our eligibility form is easy to use! If you are eligible for our services, you will be contacted by an intake worker who will conduct an intake to get more detailed information about you and your legal problem.
If for some reason the online form is not an option, call our office at 508-620-1830 or 1-800-696-1501 to be screened for eligibility.
Our services are available to residents who live in the communities we serve, meet our income guidelines, and whose requests for help fall within the priorities listed in our programs.
MWLS seeks to make legal services available to as many clients as possible. These services may be limited to advice only because we do not have enough staff to handle all of the requests.
If you are not eligible for our services, we may be able to refer you to other agencies or resources who can help you.
If you are a senior citizen, aged 60 or older, a victim of crime or the survivor of a homicide victim there are no income eligibility guidelines to receive our services.
See Eligibility for more details.
We provide services exclusively in civil (non-criminal) matters. Because we do not have the resources to handle every eligible client’s case, our staff must choose those cases in which our representation will have a significant impact on the client. Our priority cases include:
· Public Benefits (including unemployment)
· Elder Law
· Health Care Access
· Domestic Violence
· Immigration Assistance for Victims of Abuse
· Advocacy for Victims of Crime
For a detailed description of the types of cases we handle, see Get Legal Help.