Civil Legal Aid and Domestic Violence: A Review of the Literature and Promising Directions

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This note summarizes extant research on civil legal aid, which includes provision of legal services for indigent and low-income individuals, and its applications for DV and IPV victims, and concludes with suggestions for improving service delivery and research in the field. Results of searches of online databases for peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed articles, reports, analyses, and evaluations of civil legal aid in the United States were analyzed and critically assessed. Civil legal aid is a promising but underfunded and underexplored avenue for responding to and reducing domestic violence (DV), intimate partner violence (IPV), and their devastating effects. Providing civil counsel in divorce, custody, and protective order proceedings can significantly improve outcomes for DV and IPV victims and their children as well as serve as a cost-effective strategy for reducing violence and generating positive social returns.