We never want anybody to feel that they are trapped in a domestic violence situation due to lack of information or resources. ~Maryse Allen, Compton & Duling
Prince William, Virginia— In an effort to help local families affected by domestic violence, Compton & Duling launched a Community Champion project in support of Action in the Community Through Service (ACTS), a nonprofit which meets basic needs for people in crisis, such as shelter and food, as well as offering counseling and education. As part of this effort, Maryse Allen, a partner and head of the family law practice at the Prince William-based law firm, presented the ACTS Adult Victim Group with an overview of the divorce process in Virginia.
Allen highlighted common concerns such as custody arrangements, protective orders and division of assets, also fielding questions from the group, which is comprised of men and women recovering from domestic abuse.
“While I am unable to give specific legal advice during a presentation, I can provide insight into preventing common pitfalls,” said Allen, who heads Compton & Duling’s family law practice. “Another goal is to demystify the court process. We never want anybody to feel that they are trapped in a domestic violence situation due to lack of information or resources.”
Many of those in attendance had questions about their own situations. Often, Allen’s advice was to seek legal counsel. “The laws are constantly changing, and every case is unique,” she explained, offering resources such as the Northern Virginia Legal Services for locating reduced rate or pro bono legal services.
“In this group, we often have people who are further along in breaking the cycle of violence in their families. Knowing about what legal remedies are available to them in terms of child support and legal protections can empower the next steps in their healing and freedom,” said ACTS Domestic Violence Specialist Cynthia M. Holmes.
Allen said that she is also exploring joint speaking engagements where she and an ACTS representative would talk to churches and community groups to build awareness of domestic abuse along with resources for escaping it. “This is an issue that can affect anybody. We want to build awareness and remind people that they have options. They are not in this alone,” said Allen.
To learn more about services offered through ACTS, which meets both basic and emotional needs for individuals in crisis, visit www.ACTSPWC.org. For information on Compton & Duling, which, in addition to family law, has commercial, real estate and land use practices, visit www.ComptonDuling.com.