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Legal Center

Program Summary

The Legal Center offers free legal advocacy and representation for both males and females dealing with relationship violence-related legal matters, including:

  • Protection From Abuse (PFA)
  • Child Custody and Child Support
  • Legal Options Counseling
  • Safety Planning
  • Court Accompaniment

For free legal help from the Women Against Abuse Legal Center, call 215.686.7082.


Client Feedback

"I cannot express how truly grateful I am for the services I received from WAA."

"Every staff member that I spoke to and met with were very patient and informative."

"The staff at the facility made me feel safe and welcomed."

These comments were provided by clients in anonymous satisfaction surveys.


Program Detail

Lack of understanding of the criminal and legal systems can become significant barriers to victims of domestic violence in establishing safety. Legal advocacy is often the deciding factor in whether a victim will successfully leave an abusive relationship.

In Philadelphia, 85% of individuals seeking civil protection from abuse (PFA) orders lack representation and must appear pro se despite their lack of familiarity with the judicial process. Consequently, the majority of pro se petitioners are unable to present the necessary evidence to establish eligibility for a PFA, even though the facts of their case entitle them to one. WAA’s Legal Center fills such information gaps by working with victims to navigate the complexities of the legal system in order to obtain life-saving protections under law.

Clients often face multiple challenges, including victimization from domestic violence and/or stalking, homelessness, poverty, and unemployment. The Legal Center provides more than 5,000 individuals each year with free attorney representation, court advocacy or telephone counseling in seeking protection from abuse orders, child custody and support.

Attorney representation: WAA provides free attorney representation to individuals seeking protection from abuse or child custody and support.

Court advocacy: Women Against Abuse court advocates provide direct legal assistance and safety planning to victims of domestic violence in court who may be unfamiliar with the Women Against Abuse Legal Center. Advocates help clients navigate the legal process, which can be cumbersome, abstruse and re-traumatizing for victims. WAA court advocates are stationed in Philadelphia Family Court, where protection from abuse cases are heard, and in Philadelphia's two criminal courtrooms dedicated to domestic violence cases.

New initiatives: The Legal Center launched two new programs -- the Telephone Outreach Program and the Fast-Track Attorney Program -- to reach more victims of domestic violence and provide appropriate assistance. Read about these and other new programs here.