Council Member Treyger Introduces Bill To Help Victims Of Domestic Violence With Divorce


NYC Council Member Mark Treyger (District 47) introduced Int. 1085 on Wednesday, a bill that would provide free legal services to victims of domestic violence who want to divorce their abusive partners.

A judge’s gavel. (Photo: Joe Gratz / Flickr)

The legislation would require the Office of the Civil Justice Coordinator to establish programs that provide victims of domestic abuse free legal representation in divorce proceedings. Many victims are unable to pay for a divorce, particularly when an abusive partner manages the finances in the relationship or when the victim’s immigration status is in question, according to a release announcing the bill.

While family court offers free legal representation for those in need of it, divorce proceedings are held in Supreme Court where there is no right to counsel, the release states. On top of costly attorney bills, filing fees can also run up to hundreds of dollars and costs can go up even more if the victim needs help finding the abusive party and/or if the divorce is contested. Council Member Treyger’s bill would cover both uncontested and contested divorce proceedings.

“I believe this is an issue of basic decency, fairness and justice for victims of domestic violence, to make sure that they have the basic resources to escape their abusers and secure their freedom and safety,” Council Member Treyger said in a statement. “There are countless victims of domestic violence who face great difficulty shouldering the financial burden throughout what is often a lengthy divorce process. This legislation will empower victims and help them move on with their lives.”

The most common request at the National Organization for Women (NOW) is for help in filing for divorce, President of NOW NYC, Sonia Ossorio, said in a statement. “The biggest roadblock is not having access to legal representation. When domestic violence is involved, the situation can become dangerous quickly. Having a resource like this where a woman can get expert advice and a lawyer to ensure the court process makes headway is one of the most beneficial things we could do for battered women.”

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