Legal Help

Essential Pittsburgh: The High Cost of Protection From Abuse

Mar 16, 2015
Rae Allen / Flickr

When faced with an abusive partner, many women seek out a restraining order to get protection and regain some control over their lives. But according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh, getting out of an abusive relationship can be quite costly for women who try to obtain restraining orders. Sociologists Melanie Hughes and Lisa Brush address the financial disruption in women’s lives when they petition the courts to leave abusive relationships. 

Lisa discusses the focal points and the results of this study.

"What we really wanted to understand was if we compared women to themselves before and after they went through the process of petitioning ... did they have a boost in their earnings and an increase afterwards in the wake?”

She continues by presenting the other possibility for the results.

“Or was there an economic shock or a stall in their earnings? And in fact we found out that the period right around the time when they’re petitioning is full of all kinds of turmoil and um pretty much everybody experiences a shock and lots of women experience a stall in their earnings.”

Also, in this program we speak with Attorney Lisa A. Borelli Dorn about what it takes to file a protection from abuse order. And what prospects does the RMU men's basketball team have for making it to the Final Four? 

Legal aid for the poor and disadvantaged is slated to get more funding under a measure approved by the legislature and signed by the governor this month.

Court fees are slated to increase in order to set aside more money to help eligible Pennsylvanians pay their legal bills when settling basic needs regarding things like housing, health and safety. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tara Toohil (R-Luzerne), passed with nearly unanimous support in the House and Senate.

University of Pittsburgh Law School

It may come as a shock to those who think that there are too many lawyers, but many Americans cannot get their legal needs met. That's because many can not afford legal representation and don’t qualify for legal services.

In fact, according to University of Pittsburgh Law Professor David Harris, 80% of Americans who have legal needs can not find help.

“Even if you just look at the people who come into legal services offices, for every one person served, one person is turned away."

While the issue of cost of legal representation is well known, Barbara Griffin, coordinator for the Pro Bono Center of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, points out that due to funding cuts in community legal service centers, and the present economy, there are more people in need of aid than lawyers to serve them.