Anyone who has been through a divorce or works with a law firm that handles divorces knows how quickly attorneys’ fees add up. The cost of representation is beyond reach of probably a majority of those going through divorce. Some choose to go in debt to have representation. Others go it alone.
Now add to that thought the additional expense for cases that are highly contested. And most highly contested cases involve domestic violence.
A victim of domestic violence is at a disadvantage for many reasons.
S/He may be very traumatized from the violence which may have resulted in mental health issues. The trauma and/or mental health issues often make it very difficult in communicating with the attorney and may make it difficult to make efficient use of their time with the attorney. This results in a higher attorney bill because the attorney has to spend more time with him/her or results in the attorney have a lesser grasp of the case leading to a bad outcome for the individual.
This trauma and/or mental health issues also often result in him/her not presenting well to the court resulting in an unfavorable outcome.
Additionally, many victims of domestic violence were abused financially and so may have less or no access to marital money or may not be able to get credit because their spouse has significantly ruined their credit.
Private attorneys can’t take on all kinds of clients pro bono or they would never keep their doors open. And they can provide discounts on their rates to a certain point without affecting their ability to stay in business. And these cases are very time consuming.
So I don’t know that there is an answer to this problem. It’s just frustrating that representation usually becomes unaffordable to a victim of domestic violence. And it doesn’t help that funding for programs that provide free or low cost representation like Legal Action of Wisconsin is constantly being cut.