VTCourtForms Helps Vermonters Fill Out Relief from Abuse Court Forms
The holiday season can be a joyous time of gatherings and celebrations — but can be dangerous for many Vermonters. That is because the holidays can bring extra stress and new incidents of domestic abuse.
Now there's a new tool to help people escape abuse. Legal Services Vermont has launched an online guided interview that helps Vermonters prepare forms to ask for protection from abuse.
Called VTCourtForms, the tool offers an easy and accessible way to complete court forms. It provides simplified questions and explanations to guide users and ensure more complete and accurate filings.
Normally, someone who needs a protection order fills out four paper or PDF forms to give to the court. Now they can use their smartphone or computer to work through one web-based guided interview. Their answers are placed into the forms and they can review and edit their answers.
They can then choose to:
- make a password-protected account to save their progress
- share a link with a trusted domestic violence advocate so they can finish the forms together
- download or print their forms, or
- email their forms to themselves, a friend or an advocate.
VTCourtForms also produces a next-steps document explaining how to get the forms to the court and what happens next.
Vermonters can access VTCourtForms on the Relief from Abuse Roadmap at VTLawHelp.org: https://vtlawhelp.org/roadmap/relief-from-abuse/step-3.
“Our Relief from Abuse Roadmap and the new VTCourtForms provide access to justice to Vermonters at any time, day or night,” said Sam Abel-Palmer, executive director of Legal Services Vermont.
Funded by a grant from the Legal Services Corporation, VTCourtForms will grow into a collection of guided interviews to include court forms dealing with divorce, small claims and eviction.
The creation of the first VTCourtForms benefited from essential input from lawyers and advocates at Vermont Legal Aid, Legal Services Vermont and some domestic violence organizations.
Based in Burlington, Legal Services Vermont is a nonprofit that serves residents around Vermont at no charge. LSV offers a wide range of civil legal services — from quick legal advice to full-scope representation — and community legal education for eligible, low-income Vermonters.
Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.