Domestic Violence FAQs

Translations

During the COVID-19 Emergency (Updated August 25, 2021)

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What is domestic violence?
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Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse (using money and financial tools to exert control).

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Who should I contact in an emergency?
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If you are in immediate danger, call or text 9-1-1. The D.C. Victim Hotline is available via call, text, or web chat 24 hours a day. They can be reached at 1-844-4HELPDC (1-844-443-5732). 

Civil Protection Orders

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What is a Civil Protection Order?
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A Civil Protection Order is what the District of Columbia calls a “restraining order” or a “stay away order” in cases involving domestic violence. A domestic violence survivor can request a Civil Protection Order for their own protection or on behalf of their children through the D.C. Superior Court.

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What is the difference between a Civil Protection Order and a Temporary Protection Order?
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Temporary Protection Order can be requested and put in place the same day a domestic violence survivor files a Petition for a Civil Protection Order and a hearing is held without the abuser present. A Temporary Protection Order will be granted in the case of an emergency, when a judge finds that the survivor is facing immediate danger. The Temporary Protection Order provides much of the same relief as a Civil Protection Order for the period of time between the filing of the Civil Protection Order petition and a hearing. Typically, a Temporary Protection Order lasts for fourteen days.  

Civil Protection Order is entered at a hearing after both parties have been served with the required paperwork and had the opportunity to appear in court. A Civil Protection Order will be in effect up to two years from the date it is entered by the Court.

For more information on how to obtain a Temporary Protection Order, jump ahead to the below section on Temporary Protection Orders.

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Who can file for a Civil Protection Order? 
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A person filing for a Civil Protection Order must have a certain type of relationship to the person they are filing against, unless they are a survivor of sexual assault or stalking. The required relationships include: 

  • Blood relatives; 
  • Current and former romantic/dating/sexual partners; 
  • People who share a child in common; and
  • People who have shared a residence within the past year and maintained a close relationship.

Survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking can file for a Civil Protection Order even if they do not have a prior relationship with the abuser.

A person filing for a Civil Protection order must also allege that the person they are filing against has committed a crime against them. This crime could be assault, threats to do bodily harm, sexual assault, stalking, destruction of property, theft, or parental kidnapping, among others. 

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What does a Civil Protection Order do?
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A Civil Protection Order provides important protections for domestic violence survivors against their abusers. These protections include:

  • Requiring an abuser not to assault, threaten, harass, or stalk a survivor; 
  • Requiring an abuser to stay away from a survivor;
  • Requiring an abuser to stay away from a survivor’s home, workplace, vehicle, children, and/or children’s school; 
  • Requiring an abuser to not contact a survivor in writing, by telephone, by social media, or in any other manner, including contact through a third party; 
  • Granting custody of children in common and arranging safe visitation;  
  • Requiring an abuser to reimburse a survivor for expenses related to the domestic violence; and 
  • Requiring an abuser to attend classes through the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA).  
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How can I file for a Civil Protection Order during the COVID-19 emergency?
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As of July 12, 2021, you are able to file in person at the Domestic Violence Intake Center located in Room 4550 of the D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001. The Domestic Violence Intake Center is open Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  

You also have the option to file online, without going to the D.C. Superior Court. In order to file a Petition for a Civil Protection Order, you should go to www.probono.net/dccourts. You can complete and submit the forms electronically through that website or download and email the forms to DVD@dcsc.gov. If you have any questions or concerns, you should contact the Clerk’s Office by telephone at (202) 879-0157 or by email at DVD@dcsc.gov.

D.C. SAFE advocates help survivors with drafting and filing Petitions for Civil Protection Orders. They also connect survivors to resources like social services, legal services, and basic needs supports. To get connected to D.C. SAFE, you can go to the Domestic Violence Intake Center located in Room 4550 of the D.C. Superior Court Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., or you can call or text the D.C. Victim Hotline at 1-844-4HELPDC (1-844-443-5732) 24 hours a day.

Temporary Protection Orders

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How can I get a Temporary Protection Order?
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If you are filing for a Civil Protection Order and you want to request a Temporary Protection Order, you should be sure to check the following box on the second page of your Petition: 

Temporary Protection Order

As of July 12, 2021, you are able to file in person at the Domestic Violence Intake Center located in Room 4550 of the D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001. The Domestic Violence Intake Center is open Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. You also have the option to file online. You can complete and submit the Petition electronically through http://www.probono.net/dccourts or download and email the forms to DVD@dcsc.gov. If you have any questions or concerns, you should contact the Clerk’s Office by telephone at (202) 879-0157 or by email at DVD@dcsc.gov.

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What if I need a Temporary Protection Order after business hours?
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If you need a Temporary Protection Order outside of normal business hours, you can request an Emergency Temporary Protection Order (ETPO). The ETPO process is available 24 hours a day.  

To access the ETPO process, you can: (1) call or text 9-1-1; (2) call or text the D.C. Victim Hotline at 1-844-4HELPDC (1-844-443-5732); or (3) go to the Seventh District Police Station to see if you qualify.   

Scheduling and Other Concerns

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When do I go to Court for my Civil Protection Order?
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You should receive a Notice of Hearing and Order to Appear when you file your case.  If your hearing was postponed due to the COVID-19 emergency and you did not receive a new Notice of Hearing and Order to Appear, you should check the Domestic Violence Division’s Scheduling Order for a chart of new court dates for Civil Protection Order cases. Your court date is likely to go forward virtually.  Check your email or contact the court before the court date if you have not heard anything.   

If you have a question about a court date, you can contact the Domestic Violence Division Clerk’s Office. The Clerk’s Office is available by phone (202) 879-0157 and email (DVD@dcsc.gov), Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 am and 5:00 pm.  

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What will happen on the day of my hearing if Court is virtual?
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If your hearing is going to be held virtually, you will need to call in or join the video hearing via WebEx at 8:30am to check in.  You should have received these instructions prior to the hearing: 

Instructions prior to hearing

When you check in via WebEx, a clerk will ask for your contact information.  The court will call you back when a negotiator is available to speak with you, and/or when the judge is ready to call your case.  You should stay by your telephone and expect that you may receive calls from the court at any time before 5:00 p.m. that day.

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What if my Civil Protection Order or Temporary Protection Order expires while the Court is closed?
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Your Temporary Protection Order will be extended until the next court date in your case. Your Civil Protection Order will expire on the date specified on the order, unless you file a Motion to Extend it.  

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What if I need to extend or modify my current Civil Protection Order or Temporary Protection Order?
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Motion to Modify or Extend a Civil Protection Order or Temporary Protection Order can be filed any time before the Civil Protection Order or Temporary Protection Order expires. Anyone who wants to extend their Civil Protection Order must file a motion to extend before it expires, or else would need to file a new petition based on new incidents.  

You may file a Motion in person at the Domestic Violence Intake Center located in Room 4550 of the D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana NW, Washington, DC 20001.  The Domestic Violence Intake Center is open Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

The Domestic Violence Clerk’s Office is also accepting motions filed online. You should go to www.probono.net/dccourts to complete and submit the forms online or download and email the forms to DVD@dcsc.gov. 

If you cannot determine which form to use, or the form you need is missing, contact the Clerk’s Office by telephone at (202) 879-0157 or by email at DVD@dcsc.gov.

Legal Help

Although many places such as Legal Aid are primarily working remotely during the COVID-19 emergency, you can still get help.  

Legal Aid attorneys are available to provide advice and help people file for a Civil Protection Order. Our Northwest and Southeast offices are closed to the public, but you can apply for our services by phone at (202) 628-1161 or online. You can also find a Legal Aid attorney at the Domestic Violence Intake Center located in Room 4550 of the D.C. Superior Court between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Many other legal services providers remain open and are able to help as well.

Counseling and Support

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Who can I contact for counseling or safety planning?
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The following organizations are offering counseling and/or safety planning services: 

  • The Wendt Center provides counseling to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, homicide, and other violent crimes. They can be reached at (202) 204-5021.  
  • The Women’s Center also provides counseling services for survivors of domestic violence. Those in need can contact the Intake Specialist at (202) 293-4580, ext. 100.
  • The Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project (DVRP) has case managers available on their hotline at (202) 833-2233.   
  • JCADA operates a confidential helpline Monday - Thursday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and on Fridays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Survivors can call 1-877-88-JCADA for information, support, and safety planning.
  • DAWN offers support services for survivors who are deaf or hard of hearing. Survivors can connect with DAWN by email at hotline@deafdawn.org.  
  • D.C. SAFE can assist with safety planning, and can be reached via the D.C. Victim Hotline at 1-844-4HELPDC (1-844-443-5732). 

Custody

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How can I file a custody case, or file a motion in my existing custody case?
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As of July 12, 2021, the Family Court Central Intake Center, located in Room JM-540 of the D.C. Superior Court, is open to accept filings between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

You also have the option to file online.  You can go to https://www.probono.net/dccourts/familycourt/ and fill out the appropriate form. Once you have completed the form, there are two ways to file it: 

  • If you have a fee waiver, or want to request a fee waiver, you can email the form (and the fee waiver form if necessary) to familycourtcic@dcsc.gov
  • If you have a fee waiver, or want to request a fee waiver, you can print your documents and drop them off in the Domestic Relations Drop box located inside the main entrance of D.C. Superior Court, at 500 Indiana Avenue, NW.
  • If you do not have or qualify for a fee waiver, you can create an account on  Case File Xpress, and file electronically. 

For help drafting and filing a case, motions, and other pleadings, you can contact the Family Court Self-Help Center at (202) 879-0096.  

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I have custody through a Temporary Protection Order. Do I need to file a custody case to ensure that I maintain custody?
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Maybe.  When you have your Civil Protection Order hearing, you may be granted custody for the duration of the Civil Protection Order. If you are not granted custody beyond the Temporary Protection Order period, you may file a custody case at that point.

If you are considering filing a custody case, it would be best to speak to an attorney about whether or not to file. Legal Aid’s Northwest and Southeast offices are closed to the public, but you can apply for our services by phone at (202) 628-1161 or online

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I suspect the other parent is abusing our child. I feel like it is unsafe for our child to visit with the other parent. What should I do?
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It depends. If you do not have a custody order, you should file a Civil Protection Order case on behalf of your child and ask for a Temporary Protection Order that grants you custody and suspends the abuser’s visitation (see above for how to file for a Civil Protection Order).  

If you do have a custody order that gives the abuser any visitation, you should file an Emergency Motion to Modify Custody. You can use the Motion to Modify Custody form, but be sure to specify that you are filing an emergency motion.  

You can also call the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) at (202) 442-6100, or make a report of child abuse to their 24-hour hotline at (202) 671-7233.

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My abuser recently assaulted or threatened me. Now I feel like exchanges of our child and/or visits between our child and the abuser are unsafe. What should I do?
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It depends. If you do not have a custody order, you should file a Civil Protection Order case and ask for a Temporary Protection Order. In addition to asking for protection for yourself, you can ask that the Temporary Protection Order deny the abuser visitation or set a safe exchange location.  

If you do have a custody order that gives the abuser any visitation, you may want to file an Emergency Motion to Modify Custody. You can use the Motion to Modify Custody form, but be sure to specify that you are filing an emergency motion. You can file for a Civil Protection Order as well, and may want to for your own protection, but domestic violence judges are hesitant to change existing custody orders. The judge may decline to modify your custody agreement, or may modify custody only for a short period of time. Also, even if a Temporary Protection Order suspends visits temporarily, you will likely be required to file a Motion to Modify Custody as well.

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What should I do if my current Civil Protection Order or custody order requires visits at the Supervised Visitation Center?
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The Supervised Visitation Center is currently working to set up remote supervised visits in many cases. You can contact the Supervised Visitation Center at (202) 879-4253 for more information.

If remote supervised visits are not set up in your case, you should use your best judgment and try to be reasonable during this time. Consider alternatives to visitation at the Supervised Visitation Center, and try to communicate with the other party about visitation, if it is safe to do so.  

If you and the other party cannot agree on safe, appropriate arrangements for supervised visitation outside of the Supervised Visitation Center, you can file a Motion to Modify your Civil Protection Order and/or your custody order. It is possible that visitation will be postponed or take place over video until the Supervised Visitation Center reopens. But keep in mind that judges will be more likely to consider your Motion if you have made sincere attempts to make arrangements with the other party.  

If you decide to file a Motion to Modify your Civil Protection Order, you can follow the same procedure for filing for a Civil Protection Order, and use the Motion to Modify form.  

If you decide to file a Motion to Modify Custody, follow the procedure for filing a motion in your existing custody case.

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What should I do if my current Civil Protection Order or custody order requires exchanges at the Supervised Visitation Center?
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You should consider safe, alternate exchange locations so that visitation can continue during this time. Exchanges can take place at police stations, or through third parties, to keep you safe. Make every effort to be reasonable during this time. Judges will expect you to adhere to any visitation order as much as possible.  

If you and the other party cannot agree on safe, appropriate arrangements for exchanges outside of the Supervised Visitation Center, you can consider filing a Motion to Modify your Civil Protection Order and/or your custody order. Judges are unlikely to suspend the other party’s visitation, but may suggest additional alternative exchange locations. Keep in mind that judges will be more likely to consider your Motion if you have made sincere attempts to make arrangements with the other party.  

If you decide to file a Motion to Modify your Civil Protection Order, you can follow the same procedure for filing for a Civil Protection Order, and use the Motion to Modify form.  

If you decide to file a Motion to Modify Custody, you can follow the procedure for filing a motion in your existing custody case.

Divorce

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My spouse is controlling our finances and preventing me from accessing our money. What are my options?
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If you are married and experiencing financial abuse, you may be able to get relief by filing a case in Family Court or the Domestic Violence Division.  What you can file and the relief available will depend on the specific details of your situation. Legal Aid can help you consider your options. Our Northwest and Southeast offices are closed to the public, but you can apply for our services by phone at (202) 628-1161 or apply for our services online. 

Housing

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I need to leave my abuser. Are domestic violence shelters open during the pandemic?
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Yes. The domestic violence shelters run by D.C. SAFEMy Sister’s PlaceDASH (District Alliance for Safe Housing), and House of Ruth are still open, and have implemented enhanced protocols for cleaning and safety.  Domestic violence survivors in need of safe housing should call or text the D.C. Victim Hotline at 1-844-4HELPDC (1-844-443-5732).   

Additional housing resources are as follows:  

  • DASH is offering a call-in clinic on Wednesdays from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm.  Those in need can call (202) 290-2356 x 101.  
  • Anyone in need of shelter can call the D.C. Shelter Hotline at (202) 399-7093 at any time.
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Can I get help from the Crime Victims Compensation Program?
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Effective April 5, 2021, Crime Victims Compensation (CVC) staff will be available to assist with in person intake on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 500 Indiana Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001.  Staff will be located in the First Floor Information Booth.

Domestic violence survivors can also contact CVCP directly at (202) 879-4216, or call or text the D.C. Victim Hotline at 1-844-4HELPDC (1-844-443-5732) for assistance. 

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My abuser and I are both listed on our lease. I do not feel safe living with my abuser. Can I force my abuser to leave?
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Possibly. If you file for a Civil Protection Order, you can ask that the abuser be ordered to leave your shared residence. If you are in imminent danger, you can request a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) when you file, and you may be granted a telephonic hearing that same day. If the judge grants you a TPO, they may require that the abuser vacate the home as part of this Order.

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I need to move because my abuser knows where I live. Can I break my lease?
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Yes. You are permitted to break your lease if you are a victim of Domestic Violence. You must give your landlord written notice and include a copy of a Civil Protection Order or other documentation from a qualified third party about the violence (law enforcement officer, DCHA public safety officer, health professional, DV counselor). The lease termination will be effective fourteen (14) days after you provide the written notice. 

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My abuser is threatening to put me out of our home, and I don’t have anywhere else to go. I am not on the lease, but I have been helping pay rent. Can the abuser do this?
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Possibly. It will depend on whether or not you are considered a subtenant with rights to remain in the apartment. Whether or not you are a subtenant will depend on the specific facts of your situation, including the understanding between you and your abuser when you moved into the apartment and whether your abuser has been ordered to leave the apartment. Please call Legal Aid at (202) 628-1161 or apply for our services online to get advice about your specific situation.

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My abuser has a Section 8 voucher. I am on the voucher, but not the Head of Household on it. Can I keep the voucher if I need to separate from my abuser?
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Possibly. This will depend on the circumstances of your case. You should contact DCHA right away at (202) 535-1000 and let them know that you: (1) are on a voucher; (2) are a survivor of domestic violence; and (3) want your abuser removed from the voucher. Please call Legal Aid at (202) 628-1161 or apply for our services online to get advice about your specific situation.

Public Benefits

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My abuser was providing financial help to our family, but I had to flee that situation. Is there assistance I can get to help pay for food and other expenses?
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You may be eligible for SNAP benefits (often called food stamps) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF for short). TANF is cash and other assistance for families with very low income and children 18 or younger, including people who are pregnant.

You can apply online, fax an application (available in EnglishSpanish, and Amharic) to a Service Center (numbers below), or drop off an application in person. In-person applications are discouraged at this time for health and safety reasons. 

Congress Heights Service Center, 4049 South Capitol St., SW 
Phone: (202) 645-4546 
Fax: 202-654-4524

H Street Service Center, 645 H St. NE 
Phone: (202) 698-4350 
Fax: 202-724-8964

Taylor Street Service Center, 1207 Taylor St. NW 
Phone: (202) 576-8000 
Fax: 202-576-8740

There is also a new program called Pandemic-EBT, or P-EBT, now available. It provides additional food assistance to families who have lost access to free school meals due to COVID-19 related school closures. DHS has created a website and P-EBT Call Center for families, at 202-868-6663.

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How long will it take for me to start receiving SNAP or TANF benefits?
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The Department of Human Services must process your SNAP application in 30 days, unless you qualify for expedited food assistance because: 1) you have less than $100 and less than $150 in income each month and/or 2) your rent and utilities are more than your income each month. These expedited applications must be processed in 7 days.

The Department of Human Services generally has 45 days to process TANF applications.

Once your application for SNAP and/or TANF is approved, the Department of Human Services will mail you an Electronic Benefits Transfer (or EBT) card so you can access your benefits. 

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Where do I call if I have trouble applying for SNAP and/or TANF?
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You can call the Department of Human Services at (202) 727-5355. If you can’t get through or still need help, you can contact Legal Aid at (202) 628-1161, or apply for services online

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My abuser is listed as part of my household on my TANF and food stamps cases. How can I remove my abuser from my cases?
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If you are listed as the head of household, you can submit a letter to a DHS service center asking them to remove the abuser and update your household. If the abuser is listed as the head of household, you will need to submit a new combined application for benefits so DHS can create a separate case in their system.

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I need health insurance. How do I get it?
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You have a few different options depending on your income and immigration status. 

Medicaid helps pay for medical services for low-income people and people with disabilities who are citizens, lawful permanent residents or some other lawful status.  (See below for Medicaid income cutoffs.)  To apply, you can complete an application online through DC Health Link or mail the application to:

DC Health Link
Department of Human Services 
Case Records Management Unit 
P.O. Box 91560 
Washington DC 20090

The application is also available in Amharic, Spanish, Chinese, and French.

Alliance and Immigrant Children’s Program provide health insurance for adults (Alliance) and children (Immigrant Children’s Program) who meet Medicaid income requirements but not Medicaid immigration status requirements. Applications are the same as for SNAP and TANF. You can apply online, fax an application (available in EnglishSpanish, and Amharic) to a Service Center (numbers below), or drop off an application in person. In-person applications are discouraged at this time for health and safety reasons. 

Congress Heights Service Center, 4049 South Capitol St., SW 
Phone: (202) 645-4546 
Fax: 202-654-4524

H Street Service Center, 645 H St. NE 
Phone: (202) 698-4350 
Fax: 202-724-8964 

Taylor Street Service Center, 1207 Taylor St. NW 
Phone: (202) 576-8000 
Fax: 202-576-8740

If you have additional questions about public benefits, please see Legal Aid’s Frequently Asked Questions About Public Benefits in the District. If you need help with public benefits, you can contact Legal Aid at (202) 628-1161, or apply for services online.

Consumer Protection

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My abuser used my name to open a credit card. Now I am being sued to collect this debt (or there is a judgment against me for the balance). Can the debt collector take my stimulus payment?
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In general, no.  The newest round of stimulus payments cannot be seized by debt collectors or creditors.  These stimulus payments also cannot be intercepted for tax debt, student loan debt, or child support arrears.

Federal and District law have many protections for consumers during and after the pandemic.  If you have additional questions about debt collection, please see Legal Aid’s Frequently Asked Questions About Debt Collection Protections. If you need assistance disputing a debt related to domestic violence, you can contact Legal Aid at (202) 628-1161, or apply for services online before your next court date.

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I have minor children, but I did not receive the additional stimulus funds for my children. Why did this happen?
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There are at least three reasons this might have happened:

  • You did not claim your children as dependents on your most recent tax return; or
  • Your child’s other parent filed an income tax return claiming your children as dependents before you had a chance to do so.
  • You received your own payment automatically because you are a Social Security, SSDI, SSI, VA, or Railroad Retirement beneficiary and you did not register your dependents for the additional stimulus payments by the IRS deadline.

The person who claims the children as dependents on their tax return will receive the stimulus payment for each child.  

In any of these instances, you may be able to obtain the additional payments for your qualifying children by claiming a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return.

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Which parent is legally entitled to claim the children as dependents?
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The custodial parent (i.e. the parent with whom the children reside for more than half of a given tax year) has the right to either claim the minor children as dependents on their own tax return, or give the non-custodial parent permission to claim the children as dependents by executing IRS Form 8332 each year. 

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As the custodial parent, is there anything I can do to get back the additional dependent child stimulus funds that the non-custodial parent received?
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Possibly. Custodial parents who were not able to receive additional payments for their dependent children during either the first of second round of relief can apply for the Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax returns. There are two important things to remember, however:

  • The Recovery Rebate Credit is awarded based on the actual circumstances that were in place in 2020.
    • So if your dependent child was living with you in 2019, but not in 2020, you cannot claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, even if you did not receive the additional dependent stimulus payment for your child last year.
    • Similarly, if you did not receive the dependent child payment last year because someone else claimed your child on their 2019 taxes, and your child turned 17 in 2020, you are not able to receive the Recovery Rebate Credit for that child, because the child is no longer a qualifying child as of 2020.
  • Even if your dependent children were living with you in 2020, you may not receive the Recovery Rebate Credit if someone else claims the children as dependents on their 2020 tax returns before you have had a chance to do so.
    • If you attempt to electronically file your 2020 tax returns claiming dependent children who have already been claimed on someone else’s 2020 tax returns, your electronic return will be rejected. At that point, in order to file your 2020 tax return claiming your dependent children, you must file a paper return.
    • This will trigger an IRS audit to determine which parent was the custodial parent in 2020.  To prepare for the audit, you should collect evidence that the children resided with you for more than half of the year. Examples of acceptable evidence are listed in IRS Form 886-H-DEP.
    • We do not have information on how soon the IRS will start conducting these audits once the paper return is filed.
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My abuser owes me back child support. Will I receive some or all of their stimulus payment?
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CSSD continues to collect funds intercepted from non-custodial parents’ tax refunds and stimulus payments that non-custodial parents received pursuant to federal stimulus aid from March 2020, known as the CARES Act, or funds received via the Recovery Rebate Credit claimed while filing your 2020 tax returns.  

Federal aid from December 2020 and March 2021 should not be intercepted for child support arrears.  

The government will only garnish the March 2020 stimulus checks of the following individuals:

  • Non-custodial parents who owe child support arrears of at least $150 for a child(ren) who receives TANF benefits or who is in foster care.
  • Non-custodial parents who owe child support arrears of at least $500 for a child(ren) who does not receive TANF benefits and who is not in foster care.

The garnished funds will be paid to whomever the child support arrears are owed. 

  • The garnished funds will go to the custodial parent if the child(ren) at issue has never been in foster care or received TANF benefits (because the arrears are owed directly to him or her).
  • At least some portion of the garnished funds might go to the District if the child(ren) is or was in foster care or has or is receiving TANF benefits (to repay the government for these benefits).  

If you have additional questions about the stimulus payment, please see Legal Aid’s Frequently Asked Questions About How to Get and Protect Your Stimulus Payment. If you need help understanding the stimulus payment process or with tax filing (or registering with the IRS as a non-tax filer), you can contact the Financial Stability Network.

Criminal

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My abuser is in jail. Will they be released due to COVID-19?
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Possibly. During the public health emergency, the Department of Corrections has discretion to allow for early release of people who committed misdemeanors, including domestic violence. You can visit vinelink.com for information about a prisoner’s location and release status. You can also contact the United States Attorney’s Office at (202) 252-1900 or (202) 252-7130 to speak to the prosecutor in the case for more information about release status.
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My abuser violated my Civil Protection Order, and I want to press charges. What should I do?
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If your abuser has violated your Civil Protection Order, there are two ways to press charges: 

  • Call the police when the incident happens. Like any other crime, police will investigate, and seek a warrant, if they think it is appropriate.
  • File a Motion for Contempt. You can file in person at the Domestic Violence Intake Center located in Room 4550 of the D.C. Superior Court. The Domestic Violence Intake Center is open between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  You can also complete and submit the forms electronically through www.probono.net/dccourts or download and email the forms to DVD@dcsc.gov. If you need assistance filing a Motion for Contempt, contact the Domestic Violence Clerk’s Office at (202) 879-0157 or get in touch with D.C. SAFE via the D.C. Victim Hotline at 1-844-4HELPDC (1-844-443-5732). Motions for Contempt are being reviewed by attorneys at the D.C. Office of the Attorney General, and they will file charges if they deem it appropriate.

Immigration

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I am involved in a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) case on behalf of an immigrant child who is going to age-out (meaning the child will turn eighteen years old) soon. Will we still be able to have the required hearing in D.C. Superior Court?
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The D.C. Superior Court should be able to schedule these types of hearings.  You should contact an attorney to help you request a hearing before the child turns eighteen years old.

If you have other immigration-related questions, please see Legal Aid’s Frequently Asked Questions About Immigration During the COVID-19 Health Emergencycontact Legal Aid at (202) 628-1161, or apply for services online

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If you would like legal advice about your situation, you can contact Legal Aid. Our Northwest and Southeast offices are closed to the public, but we are open for telephone and online intake. You can apply for our services by calling (202) 628-1161 or online.