Your first step in getting connected to Legal Advocacy is to reach out to us through Safe+Sound Somerset’s 24/7 Call and Text Hotline at 866-685-1122. Access to all of our services happens by taking this first step.
The hotline advocate answering your call or text will collect your information and submit a referral for Legal Advocacy, and any other services you wish to learn more about or access. Once received, a staff member from the Legal Advocacy program will call you to discuss your situation.
What to Expect When a Legal Advocate Contacts You
Legal Advocates listen, offer support, and provide information and guidance with respect and compassion. All services are confidential and designed to help you navigate the complexities of the legal system and court process to achieve the best outcomes possible.
When a Legal Advocate calls you, they will first make sure you are in a safe and private place, and that the timing is good for you to discuss your circumstances. If you are not in safe place or it’s a bad time to speak, we will make a specified appointment call you back.
We will listen to you and collect information about your immediate situation and concerns. On this first call, we will work with you to create an individualized safety plan that considers your specific needs and situation. Advocates will go over different aspects of domestic abuse, using educational tools such as the Power and Control Wheel.
If you have an upcoming court hearing for a restraining order, we will provide you information about your options and choices. It is important that you have all the information you need so that you can make an informed decision on how you would like to proceed. Going through the court process can be stressful, and intimidating, our advocates will provide the support you may need, during the entire court process.
S+SS’s Legal Advocates are not attorneys and do not offer legal advice. We can help you prepare for court proceedings and can support you during the court process.
If you decide to have an attorney represent you in court proceedings, several options may be available to you. If you meet the financial criteria, you may be eligible for legal assistance through Legal Services of Northwest Jersey or a Pro Bono attorney.
During your meetings with the Legal Advocate, you will also receive information about additional resources and services offered by S+SS such as individual and group Counseling, Financial Empowerment and Financial Advocacy. If you have immediate safety concerns or needs, the Legal Advocate can assist you with exploring and accessing safe housing if appropriate for your specific situation. We also have the ability to connect you to resources in the community to help you build a life free from domestic abuse.
See Also: Legal Advocacy
What to Expect from the Courts during the COVID-19 Pandemic
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, all court staff and judges are working remotely. To account for this, the following court proceedings have changed for the indefinite future:
If you are seeking a Final Restraining Order (FRO), the courts will conduct the proceeding remotely through video conferencing. A primary concern is the plaintiff’s safety and security for a remote trial. You may have to determine where the best location is for you to be during that time, making sure you are in a private, safe location without interruptions. Due to the complexity of reviewing evidence, securing subpoenas, and the final restraining order trials themselves, many cases may be delayed as the public health crisis continues.
If you are seeking Amendments to a restraining order, you can add more information to an existing restraining order by contacting the court staff. Contacting the court staff.
If you are seeking a Dismissal of a temporary restraining order, contact the court staff to inform the court. You will then be instructed to call S+SS’s 24/7 hotline at 866-685-1122 prior to the remote court date. An Advocate will provide you dismissal counseling that includes a review of the dynamics of domestic violence, the Power & Control Wheel, safety planning, and information about available supports and services.
If you have any questions or concerns about FRO trials or court proceedings, call the Domestic Violence court staff at the Somerset County Court House at 908-322-7700, ext. 13007.
All of the above information is subject to change as the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic evolve. Please check with the S+SS’s Legal Advocates at our 24/7 call or text hotline 866-685-1122 or the DV court staff at 908-322-7700, ext.13007, for the latest information.