The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Foundation

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Grantee News


The Volunteer Lawyers for Justice – New Jersey

The Volunteer Lawyers for Justice (“VLJ”) is the inaugural recipient of the Jim and Lea Hennenhoefer Grant awarded for most innovative grant proposal for 2017. 

The VLJ was created in 2001 as a program of the Legal Services Foundation of Essex County, New Jersey, to provide direct legal representation to residents of Essex County, New Jersey.  Today, VLJ provides free legal services throughout the State of New Jersey with more than 1500 lawyers and paralegals who volunteer for one or more of VLJ’s legal programs.  VLJ’s mission is to improve the lives of economically disadvantaged adults, children, and families in New Jersey by empowering them with tools, advice and pro bono representation with the goal of securing fair and equal treatment within the legal system.

VLJ offers several programs for aiding women, children and families, which include:

1.    The Children’s Representation Program.  In this Program, volunteer lawyers represent children with disabilities who have been denied the special education services to which they are entitled and/or represent children who are victims of harassment/bullying in a school setting.

2.    Divorce Program.  Through VLJ’s Divorce Program, lawyers assist litigants who are preparing the necessary pleadings to file for divorce or respond to a pending divorce action.  The divorce process can be confusing and overwhelming for most people.  Lawyers provide advice to litigants about how to proceed during each step of the divorce process and provide litigants with completed pleadings that they can file with the Family Clerk’s Office.

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The Children’s Law Center of Central North Carolina

The Children’s Law Center of Central North Carolina provides children with quality legal advocacy that focuses on domestic violence issues, high-conflict custody cases and the rights of children in public education.

Their mission is to increase children’s potential to become emotionally healthy adults through fostering their sense of hope and empowerment.

The CLC was the first non-profit legal entity in North Carolina to represent the best interests of children in civil domestic violence cases.  Limited resources too often prevent the voices of children who witness family violence from being heard in our courtrooms.  Staff attorneys provide advocacy for children and also train and mentor volunteer GAL’s through a partnership with the Wake Forest School of Law and local law firms.

Research confirms that child victims or victims of domestic violence may suffer long term psychological and emotional harm and are often underserved by community agencies.  Childhood exposure to violence is known to contribute to behavioral problems, substance abuse and negative health outcomes.  CLC GAL’s recommend age appropriate counseling for exposed children and family members to help ensure child safety.

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