Frequently Asked Questions
DO I QUALIFY FOR LEGAL SERVICES?
If you live in San Diego County and are a low-income individual, then yes, you do qualify. Please note that SDVLP only handles civil legal cases; for criminal cases, contact the San Diego County Office of the Public Defender at (619) 338-4700.
GUARDIANSHIP: I HAVE TAKEN OVER CARING FOR SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILDREN, BUT I NEED TO BECOME THEIR LEGAL GUARDIAN IN ORDER TO ENROLL THE CHILD IN SCHOOL OR OTHER SERVICES. CAN YOU HELP?
Yes, we offer a free clinic for assistance in obtaining legal guardianship of children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their parents (for locations and times, click here). Appointments are not necessary. Applicants must meet financial eligibility requirements and be residents of San Diego County.
SPECIAL EDUCATION ADVOCACY: I AM THE FOSTER PARENT OF A YOUTH WHO IS HAVING PROBLEMS AT SCHOOL, AND THE SCHOOL IS UNWILLING TO HELP. CAN YOU HELP?
Yes, we offer free representation to students who are foster or dependent youth who are struggling academically. Staff and volunteer attorneys assist these youth in meeting their educational needs and goals by reviewing educational records, attending Individualized Educational Program (IEP) Team meetings, and, as needed, filing for mediation and Due Process hearings. Please contact our office for further information at (619) 235-5656.
HIV/AIDS: I AM AN INDIVIDUAL WITH HIV OR AIDS. ARE THERE ANY LEGAL SERVICES AVAILABLE TO ME?
Yes, we offer legal services to financially eligible San Diego County residents who are infected with HIV or AIDS. Legal assistance is available on such civil matters as:
- Estate planning
- Employment or housing discrimination situations (or other civil rights violations)
- Bankruptcy and other debtor/creditor problems
- Insurance difficulties
- Family law questions
- Public and disability benefits issues
- Tax issues
- Confidentiality concerns
- Other legal issues arising from your HIV+/AIDS status
Infected individuals, their family members and partners may obtain free legal advice by visiting one of SDVLP's confidential legal clinics (for locations, click here). SDVLP also offers on-going representation to financially eligible clients on a variety of civil legal issues who can also provide proof of their income and proof of their diagnosis.
PROBLEMS WITH LANDLORD: I'M HAVING PROBLEMS WITH MY LANDLORD. WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS AND CAN YOU HELP?
If you live in North San Diego County, you may walk in to our Unlawful Detainer clinic. There are no income eligibility requirements to obtain services at this clinic.
For all other cities in San Diego, please contact The Legal Aid Society of San Diego at 1-877-LEGAL AID (1-877-534-2524).
CHILD CUSTODY: I WANT TO GET CUSTODY OF MY CHILD, CAN YOU HELP?
SDVLP provides direct representation in family law cases involving custody and visitation disputes. In order to be eligible for services, you must meet the following criteria:
1) Are you low income?
2) Do you or the other parent want primary or legal custody of your child/children?
3) Does the other parent have an attorney?
If you can answer, “Yes” to these three questions, and your case is located in downtown San Diego, please call 1-866-244-0101 to apply for services.
If you do not meet the above criteria, you may contact the San Diego County Family Law Facilitator at (619) 450-5200; they do not provide an attorney but can give you information on how to get started with a custody case. You may also contact the San Diego County Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) at (619) 231-8585 to obtain a private attorney for a fee.
DIVORCE/Family law: CAN YOU HELP ME WITH MY DIVORCE and/or my family law issue?
We may be able to provide you with assistance in your divorce and/or family law matter if you are a victim of domestic violence, and you live in the City of San Diego. If you meet both of these criteria, please contact our office to apply for services at (619) 235-5656.
If you are not a victim of domestic violence, or you do not live in the City of San Diego, we are unable to offer assistance with divorce and other family law matters at this time. You may contact the San Diego County Family Law Facilitator at (619) 450-5200; they do not provide an attorney but can give you information on how to get started with your divorce. You may also contact the San Diego County Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) at (619) 231-8585 to obtain a private attorney for a fee.
IMMIGRATION SERVICES: I AM AN UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT THAT HAS BEEN THE VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. CAN YOU HELP ME OBTAIN LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENT STATUS IN THE UNITED STATES?
No, unfortunately, due to funding restrictions we do not offer legal assistance in immigration matters at this time. However, there are a number of resources in San Diego County that you may be eligible for. ACCESS (858-560-0871), Casa Cornelia Law Center (800-704-4041) and Catholic Charities (619-287-1270) all offer legal services for qualifying individuals in immigration matters. You may also call the San Diego County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at (619) 231-8585 to obtain an attorney for a fee.
ARE THERE OTHER SERVICES SDVLP DOES NOT OFFER?
We do not offer services for the following issues:
- Traffic Law
- Fee-generating Cases
- Medical/Dental Malpractice
Please call the San Diego County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at (619) 231-8585 to obtain a private attorney for a fee.