New online tool helps Vermonters seek protection from domestic abuse

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NEWPORT — In an effort to combat the rise of domestic abuse during the holiday season, Legal Services Vermont has introduced a new online resource, VTCourtForms, designed to assist Vermonters in preparing necessary court forms to request protection from abuse.

VTCourtForms simplifies the process of filling out legal paperwork by providing a guided interview that helps users complete the forms accurately and efficiently.

The tool’s intuitive interface allows individuals to answer straightforward questions, which are then used to populate the required documents.

Previously, those seeking a protection order had to manually fill out four different forms.

Now, with the introduction of VTCourtForms, users can navigate the process via a smartphone or computer, with the option to save their work, collaborate with a domestic violence advocate, and securely download, print, or email the completed forms.

The platform not only generates the necessary forms but also provides a ‘next-steps’ document, which explains how to submit the paperwork to the court and outlines the subsequent procedures.

Accessible through the Relief from Abuse Roadmap at VTLawHelp.org, VTCourtForms is available around the clock, offering a vital service for individuals in need of legal aid outside of regular business hours. “Our Relief from Abuse Roadmap and the new VTCourtForms provide access to justice to Vermonters at any time, day or night,” stated Sam Abel-Palmer, executive director of Legal Services Vermont.

The development of this tool was made possible by a grant from the Legal Services Corporation and input from professionals at Vermont Legal Aid, Legal Services Vermont, and several domestic violence organizations.

VTCourtForms is set to expand, with plans to include guided interviews for court forms related to divorce, small claims, and eviction.

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