There are a few organizations within Harris County that provide free legal representation for low-income individuals. These agencies may be able to assist domestic violence victims in obtaining divorces, child custody, and protective orders. If individuals do not qualify for pro bono (free) legal services, then they may have to hire a private attorney.
Harris County District Attorney’s
Family Criminal Law Division (Protective Orders) – 1201 Franklin, 2nd Floor, Houston TX 77002, Phone: 713/755-5888
Victims of domestic violence (family or dating relationship in which there has been violence) may go in person to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to apply for a protective order. Interviewing hours are on a first-come, first-served basis, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. There is no charge for this service to the applicant. If available, victims should bring any information that will help establish a history of family violence, such as police report numbers, photos of injuries, and witness names and contact information. Victims who wish to file criminal charges in a family violence case should first contact the law enforcement agency which responds to where the incident occurred. For example, if the incident occurred in the City of Houston, victims should contact the Houston Police Department Family Violence Unit).
Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) – AVDA provides legal representation in family law matters (protective orders, divorce and child custody) for low-income survivors of domestic violence who reside in Harris County. All program services are free, but individuals accepted for legal representation are responsible for paying Harris County filing fees and court costs. They can be reached at 713-224-9911
Attorney General’s Office: Child Support Division – This office will only set up custody as a means to establish child support. If there is any dispute over custody arrangements between the parents, the AG will not handle the case. Phone: 713-974-4876 or 1-800-252-8014
Houston Lawyer Referral Program – This is a referral line to private attorneys. If you specify that you need a reduced fee, then they will refer you to attorneys who are willing to work with your income and possibly set up a payment plan. Phone: 713- 237-9429
Houston Volunteer Lawyers – They can be reached at 713/228-0732
Lonestar Legal Foundation– To receive services, you must complete a telephone intake by calling on Wednesdays between 9am and 11:45am. They can be reached at 713/652-5911
South Texas Legal Clinic – They can be reached at 713-652-0009
Texas Southern University School of Law – They can be reached at 713-313-1075
University of Houston Legal Clinic – They can be reached at 713-743-2094
Immigration Help– If you are an undocumented immigrant who is being battered, you may be eligible to petition for U.S. residency under the Violence Against Women Act. Battered persons who are nonresidents, but married to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents now can petition the courts to obtain residency without their spouse’s assistance. The following agencies help you prepare and file these petitions
Catholic Charities Cabrini Center – Cabrini Center works with Immigration Law to help people who cannot afford to pay private attorneys. The department provides immigration help for people in many different circumstances, including abused men or women who qualify for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). They can be reached at 713-874-6570
Katy Christian Ministries Domestic Abuse Center (Katy) – DAC helps immigrant victims get immigration papers under VAWA and holds a bilingual support group weekly. They can be reached at 281-391-4504 .
YMCA International Services– The Trafficked Persons Assistance Program provides comprehensive services to victims of human trafficking, including housing, legal assistance, counseling, medical treatment assistance, and case management. Other YMCA International programs include Immigration Counseling, a VAWA program assisting immigrant victims of domestic violence to self-petition, a Crime Victims Civil Legal Services Program, and Refugee Resettlement. www.ymcahouston.org . They can be reached at 713-995-4005
Immigration Counseling Center – They can be reached at 713-953-0047
University of Houston Legal Clinic (Also an Immigration Clinic)– They can be reached at 713-743-2094