Clark County Family Court announced Tuesday that it will partner with the Family Law Self-Help Center and the temporary protection order offices to create a one-stop location for domestic violence victims.
The new center, which will be housed within the Family Court atrium at 601 N. Pecos Road, is under construction and is expected to open early next year.
It is the second big initiative the court has taken this year to help victims of domestic violence, starting with an expedited protection order application process implemented in January.
Before January, the courts had until the end of the following day to make decisions about the applications they received. From there, District Judge Linda Bell said, there were many obstacles that could delay the process. Paperwork could take a long time to process, and, even if the order were approved, it wouldn’t immediately be issued to the person or put into the law enforcement system.
“What this has done, it has increased the amount of information the hearing officer has to make the decision, and if they have questions about the application, the applicant is right there so they can ask instead of having to send it back and have the person reapply,” Bell said.
With this new system, she said, victims are able to apply, have a hearing and walk out the door with protective orders in hand the same day. And on their way out, their orders are entered into the law enforcement system and are effective immediately, Bell said.
Barbara Buckley, executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, a nonprofit that operates the Self-Help Center, said one of the best additions is the new, simplified application form.
“We’re creating fill-in-the-blank forms so a victim can just answer a couple of questions, a button can be pushed and the form can be completed,” she said. “It’s called Guide and File; think TurboTax, but without that brand name.”
Ultimately, Buckley said, the new center will provide a better system for domestic violence victims get the help and protection they need, without the wait.
“When you’re struggling with grief and trauma and worried about your kids, we want the process to work for the victims,” Buckley said. “That’s what the victim center is all about.”