Legal Aid’s Family Law and Domestic Violence Unit assists clients in a range of areas. From child support to custody to civil protection orders, we helped over 3,000 people in 2023.

Maria Fratus came to Legal Aid in July of this year after being assaulted by her boyfriend, for which he was criminally charged. While waiting for the criminal case to proceed, Ms. Fratus and her Legal Aid attorney Kolleen Gladden-Sorensen filed for a civil protection order (CPO) to ensure that her abuser was not allowed to contact her. Ms. Fratus’ ex-boyfriend then petitioned a civil protection order against her in retaliation, despite multiple witnesses confirming he instigated the assault.  

Women Who Identified Violence as the Cause of Their Homelessness
Maria Fratus
"I’m just very grateful that Legal Aid is here to help anyone in need."
Maria Fratus

Kolleen was able to get a continuance for Ms. Fratus’ CPO hearing until after the criminal proceedings had concluded. They spent the next three months preparing for trial. Because of his filing, Kolleen would have been arguing Ms. Fratus’ case against him, while defending her from the abuser’s case.

Two weeks before the CPO hearing, Ms. Fratus’ ex-boyfriend was criminally convicted. In the aftermath, he hired a lawyer to represent him at the CPO hearing. His lawyer suggested that both parties withdraw their cases, but Ms. Fratus was afraid that her ex- boyfriend would harass her without a CPO in place. Kolleen didn’t back down and, after extensive negotiation, the ex-boyfriend agreed to have a CPO entered against him and dropped his case against Ms. Fratus.

Mr. Fratus is now able to live safely away from her abuser. Ms. Fratus said that the CPO “gives me reassurance. I’m able to close this door and continue with my life.”  

Ms. Fratus


Ms. Fratus


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