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Filing for protection, an online tool helping domestic violence victims in Clark County

The legal process can be intimidating and complicated for those who do not have the means to pay for a lawyer, but an online portal is helping domestic violence
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 10:14 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The legal process can be intimidating and complicated for those who do not have the means to pay for a lawyer, but an online portal is helping domestic violence victims file for protection discreetly and at no cost.

During the pandemic when court were closed, family court had to think in a new way to help domestic violence victims.

Directing Attorney at Family Law Self-Help Center, Stephanie McDonald, said domestic violence victims were isolated at home with their abusers unable to reach out to resources like a courthouse or shelters.

In April 2020, the Guide & File tool launched. It’s a software developed by Tyler Technologies Inc. Guide & File’s online portal allows people to file for 30 different case types ranging from divorce, custody to eviction, but it was designed to help domestic violence victims.

“So this system really breaks it down into bite size pieces, plain language, easy steps, that a person feels confident they can tackle without being intimidated by coming to court on their own without an attorney,” McDonald said.

The system will create the form, submit them to the court, and have their case opened electronically all for no fee.

Once someone fills out the online ‘interview,’ they can attach photos or text messages, any type of evidence they would like the judge to see.

A judge will call for a telephone hearing within 24 hours. They’ll ask questions and McDonald said typically give a decision right away if a protection order can be granted.

“The platform is really sort of designed to explain the steps and explain the process as their answering questions,” McDonald said.

The online process can take 30-45 minutes, depending on how lengthy the situation they want to explain is.

“There are a lot of people who feel they don’t have the ability to pursue their legal rights because they don’t understand the system and they don’t have the means to pay for an attorney- that doesn’t mean their legal rights are any less important to a person who does have the funds to pay for somebody. So this makes sure the courthouse doors are open physically and figuratively to everybody who needs it,” McDonald said.

Once a protection order is granted, the court sends the paperwork to the sheriff’s office.

“The more information the person has on the adverse party’s whereabouts the quicker they can be served,” McDonald said.

McDonald said the timeframe all depends, but it could happen as quickly as a couple days.

The online platform is available 24/7. You can visit the Family Self-Help Center by clicking here for other resources.