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Legal Advocacy Services

COVID-19 Update for DOVEs Legal Advocacy Program

DOVE’s Legal Advocacy Program is continuing to provide services via phone and email during the COVID-19 outbreak.  If you have already been working with an attorney, please call their extension and leave a message and they will return your call.  If you are looking for legal information or advice, please call DOVE’s Legal Helpline at 617-770-4065 x400.

Courts will be closed to the public from March 18, 2020 until at least May 4, 2020.  Emergency matters are being held via telephone or videoconference and many hearings are being automatically rescheduled.  If you have an upcoming court date or think you need to file an emergency hearing, please call DOVE’s Legal Helpline.  Please also see the below information regarding court closures.

District Court Cases (click here to view pdf containing District Court updates)This document includes information specific to district court closures including new restraining orders and harassment prevention orders and renewals of these.

Probate and Family Court Cases (click here to view pdf containing Probate & Family Court updates)
This document includes information specific to probate and family court closures including new restraining orders and renewals, family court hearings scheduled during the court closure, and emergency family court hearings.

Eviction and Summary Process Cases (click here to view pdf containing Eviction and Summary Processes Cases updates)
This document includes information regarding eviction and summary process cases in both housing court and district court.  It also includes information about your rights if your landlord is trying to evict you without going through the court process and resources if you cannot afford to pay your rent.

Immigration Cases
If you are an immigrant and have an appointment with USCIS between now and May 4, 2020, it will be rescheduled.  Click here for more information from USCIS.  Please contact DOVE’s immigration attorney at 617-770-4065 x400 for advice on your case.


Many survivors of domestic abuse will use the courts to help them find safety from an abusive partner. Some will do so by choice, going to court to get a restraining order for example; still others may end up in court because of someone else’s actions, like a neighbor calling the police.

There are criminal courts designed to punish abusers for committing crimes of domestic violence. There are also civil courts which aim to provide assistance through legal orders to protect children and survivors, grant divorces, or establish child support.

The legal system can be scary and confusing. DOVE’s Legal Advocacy Program can help.

The Legal Advocacy Program began in 1978 when DOVE Advocates accompanied survivors of domestic violence to court with the goal of providing support and information. Today, DOVE’s Legal Advocacy Program provides the following:


  • A Safe and Compassionate Place:
    Come to discuss your situation in a confidential, supportive environment with legal staff specializing in domestic violence cases.
  • Individualized Risk Assessment and Safety Planning:
    Identify potential risks and explore possible ways to minimize those risks.
  • Legal Education:
    Empower yourself with knowledge about how the laws of Massachusetts can protect and assist you.
  • Legal Assistance:
    Work with staff to identify legal issues, assess the strengths of your case, and evaluate options. Legal staff can help you understand the court process and procedures and may be able to help you write the documents you need for court.

Anticipated Public Charge Proposed Rule Statement Sign-On

click here to learn more and to sign on


Individual Legal Advocacy

LEGAL HELPLINE: 617.770.4065 X 400

  • Ask legal questions to DOVE Legal Advocacy Program staff
  • Receive basic legal information, advice, and referrals

DOVE Staff Attorneys may be able to provide limited representation in court in certain types of cases, for example:

  • 209A Abuse prevention order hearings in Norfolk Probate and Family Court and local district courts
  • Urgent custody and financial support cases brought in Norfolk County to maximize safety and enhance stability


  • Help determining which documents you need to file with the court for 209A   restraining orders, divorce, child custody and support, and more help writing these documents and organizing supporting evidence

DOVE Staff Attorneys can provide information about available legal aid services in your community, including:

  • Referrals to help clients find an attorney who is knowledgeable about their specific legal issues
  • Information about dates and times of free legal clinics in the community

DOVE Advocates and Staff Attorneys are available to provide support services to people with matters in the Quincy District Court and the Norfolk Probate and Family Court.

DOVE Advocates and Staff Attorneys are available to provide support services to people with matters in the Quincy District Court (every Friday morning) and the Norfolk Probate and Family Court (every Monday morning).



Anticipated Public Charge Proposed Rule Statement Sign-On

SIGN-ON STATEMENT from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), co-chairs of the THE PROTECTING IMMIGRANT FAMILIES, ADVANCING OUR FUTURE CAMPAIGN (PIF). To sign up for the campaign listserv, go to:

click here for details/web link

In a letter to the Supreme Judicial Court, DOVE joined a number of legal services organizations and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute in voicing support for access to justice and state courts without the threat of immigration enforcement.  The recent increased presence of immigration enforcement agents in state courthouses has chilled access to justice, as immigrants fear that they risk deportation by going to court. The letter was submitted in support of a recently filed petition pending before the SJC which requests that the court make clear that individuals appearing in court – including parties in family court proceedings or when seeking or extending a restraining order, be protected from immigration arrest.

Supreme Judicial Court Letter pdf