Getting Help

CVLAS does not handle every request for assistance, but never charges a fee for its services. CVLAS does not handle criminal, traffic, personal injury, malpractice, property damage or cases where a private lawyer could obtain a fee from the other side or from recovery.

To be eligible for free legal help from CVLAS, applicants must meet the guidelines required by Federal regulations. These include:

  1. You must live in our service area or have a case in our service area.
    Click here for our service areas

    Service Areas

    Do you live in or have a legal problem in any of the cities or counties in central Virginia below?

    City of Charlottesville, City of Richmond, City of Colonial Heights, City of Petersburg, Albemarle County, Dinwiddie County , Greene County, Fluvanna County, Louisa County, Nelson County, Charles City County, Prince George County, Surry County, Chesterfield County, Goochland County, Hanover County, Henrico County, New Kent County, Powhatan County

    CVLAS’ Charlottesville Office

    serves the counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, & Nelson and the City of Charlottesville. 434-296-8851 or toll-free 800-390-9982.

    CVLAS’ Richmond Office

    serves the counties of Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent & Powhatan and the City of Richmond. 804-648-1012 or toll-free 800-868-1012

    CVLAS’ Petersburg Office

    serves the counties of Charles City, Dinwiddie, Prince George & Surry and the Cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell & Petersburg and the Town of Ettrick. 804-862-1100 or toll-free 800-868-1012.



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  2. You must be a U.S. Citizen or meet one of our non-citizen exceptions.
    Click here for the list of exceptions

    Non U.S. Citizen Exceptions

    Usually CVLAS can only represent citizens or documented resident of the US. However, you may qualify if you meet one or more of the following exceptions.

    • Have permanent resident status (have a green card)
    • Have a Work Visa (H2A Agricultural Visa, H2B Visa)
    • Special Agricultural Worker Temporary Resident
    • Are married to a U.S. citizen
    • Are the parent of a U.S. citizen or are unmarried, under age 21 & the child of U.S. citizen, and have applied for permanent resident status & have not been rejected
    • Were admitted as a refugee, granted asylum, or granted withholding from a deportation order
    • Conditional Entrant
    • The applicant or applicant’s child has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty in the U.S. and the applicant is seeking assistance necessary to assist the victim from an abusive situation or ameliorate the current effect of the abuse or protect against future abuse. The legal assistance includes, but is not limited to, obtaining a civil protection order, divorce, child custody, child and spousal support, housing, public benefits, employment, abuse/neglect, juvenile proceedings, small claims cases, contempt actions.
      • Granted a U-Visa or victim of certain qualifying crimes and seeking assistance to ameliorate abuse
      • Granted a T-Visa or victim of trafficking, or immediate relative of T-Visa holder or trafficking victim and seeking assistance to ameliorate abuse

    Unfortunately CVLAS can only represent citizens or documented residents of the US or those who meet one of our exceptions. Please contact the Legal Aid Justice Center if you need further assistance.

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  3. Your household income must be below the federal poverty guidelines.
    Click here for the poverty guidelines

    Poverty Guidelines

    Generally, households must have gross income below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. Households with income up to 200% of the federal poverty may be accepted in certain situations. Households also must have low resources. The elderly (60 or older) may receive legal advice without regard to their finances, in certain cases. The current amounts for eligibility are in the chart below:



    Sources of Income

    CVLAS Intake Assistants will determine your household income by looking at the following:

    Employment: Gross income is counted. We do not deduct taxes, Social Security, or other withholdings (except garnishments are deducted below).

    Public assistance: Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), General Assistance, unemployment compensation, Workers’ compensation, Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, and Black Lung benefits are counted as income. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Fuel Assistance, and Cooling Assistance are not counted as income.

    Other income: child support, spousal support, retirement, pensions, other disability benefits, interest payments, trust fund payments, money given by family members to help out are counted as income.
    Income Deductions

    Income Deductions

    If your Household income is above the guidelines, we may be able to use the following expenses to reduce your income to make you eligible.

    Back taxes: Regular payments on back taxes.

    Child care: Actual cost of employment-related or school-related child care.

    Child support: Amount currently paid by court order, wage assignment or voluntarily (as long as the voluntary payments are consistent in time and amount).

    Garnished wages: Amount currently being garnished.

    Medical expenses: Unreimbursed medical expenses, e.g. for hospitals, doctors, prescriptions.

    Transportation: Actual cost of employment-related or school-related transportation, e.g. gas, parking, tolls, bus tickets.
    Other significant factors: Additional expenses related to the factors above that the Executive Director determines affect the applicant’s ability to afford legal assistance.

    Other Significant Factors: Additional expenses related to the factors above that the Executive Director determines affect the applicant’s ability to afford legal assistance.

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  4. Your household assets must be below the guidelines.
    Click here for the asset guidelines

    Asset Guidelines

    Do you have or do you expect to receive very soon, assets in the amount of $5,000 or more?

    Assets are defined as cash, checking, savings, CDs, stocks, bonds, houses, cars, boats, etc. – Family residence and one motor vehicle do not count.

    If not, unfortunately you may not qualify for free legal assistance from CVLAS. We are only able to help people who have access to limited assists.

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  5. You must have a case within our Case Acceptance Guidelines.
    Click here for our Case Acceptance Guidelines

    Case Acceptance Guidelines

    Do you have a legal problem that involves one of the following areas of law?

    • Consumer (debt collection, bankruptcy, garnishment, automobile sales, automobile repairs, etc)
    • Housing (foreclosure, eviction, lockouts, utilities, repairs, etc.)
    • Health (Health insurance, Medicare, Medicare, Nursing Home)
    • Family (Domestic Violence, Custody, Support, Divorce)
    • Public Benefits (SNAP, TANF, etc)
    • Employment (wrongful discharge, unemployment benefits)
    • Writing a Will or Power of Attorney

    For a full list of all our services, click the button below.

    Full Service List

    If YES, then you will probably qualify for legal aid. An intake specialist will call you back and confirm eligibility. On some topics we may refer eligible clients to other organizations that will provide free legal services. These include taxes, driver license restoration, school discipline, juvenile matters, immigration, post-conviction relief and prisoner rights.
    If NO, unfortunately you may not qualify for free legal assistance from CVLAS.

    If you are seeking help with a Divorce, all of the following statements must be true for CVLAS to be able to help you:

    • You must have lived separate and apart from your spouse for more than one year.
    • You must have already determined who is getting what property. This includes homes, bank accounts, animals, retirement accounts, and automobiles.
    • You must have already established custody, visitation, and child support (through a court order) of any shared children.
    • You must not have any paternity issues with children born during the marriage.

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If you meet all of our guidelines,
Click Here to Apply

What if I don’t qualify?

There are several resources available for free to all Virginians. Some of them are linked below. In addition, you may use the Legal Resources on our website.

Pre-recorded legal information
Pre-recorded legal information is available by calling 1-866-534-5243 (toll-free) before 9:00 a.m., after 5:00 p.m., and all day on weekends and legal holidays. Information is available about: Bankruptcy, Debt Collection, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Health Care, and Housing law.

Virginia Free Legal Answers
Virginia Free Legal Answers is a Website sponsored by the American Bar Association and maintained by the Virginia State Bar where volunteer attorneys will email you answers to non criminal law questions.

Virginia Court’s Self Help
Virginia Judicial System Court Self-Help is a website sponsored by the Virginia Access to Justice Commission which provides free information on a variety of legal topics.

Virginia Lawyer Referral Service
Call 804-775-0808 or toll-free 1-800-552-7977.

If you think you have a problem that may require the services of a lawyer but do not qualify for legal aid, you may wish to call the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service. Your call will be answered by a referral specialist who will request your name, address, a daytime phone number, and a brief description of your problem. Based on this information, you will be provided with the name and telephone number of a lawyer in the city or county in Virginia requested who has indicated a particular interest in handling your type of problem. The lawyer will be licensed and a member in good standing with the Virginia State Bar. It will then be your responsibility to call the lawyer to schedule an appointment. If it appears that you do not need a lawyer, you will be directed to an agency that may be able to help. Any information that you provide will be strictly confidential.

If you are referred to a lawyer, you will be entitled to consult with him or her for up to one-half hour for a fee of $35. Beginning July 1, 2007, you should be prepared to prepay by VISA or MasterCard at the time of the referral. Mail-in pre-payment by money order also is accepted. The initial consultation may answer your questions and enable you to solve your problem. If your problem requires additional time and work, you will be responsible for any additional legal fees. The lawyer you consult will be glad to discuss his or her fees and the cost of services beyond the initial consultation. However, there is no obligation for either you or the lawyer to go beyond the first consultation.

The Virginia Lawyer Referral Service’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed on federal and state holidays. The phone number is 804-775-0808 or toll-free 1-800-552-7977. More information is available at www.vsb.org/vlrs.

Grievance Procedure

IF YOU HAVE A COMPLAINT

(1) about a denial of assistance from CVLAS – such as a denial due to financial ineligibility, regulations or priorities; or (2) about the manner or quality of legal assistance received from CVLAS, you may file a grievance.

You may make a complaint to the Executive Director of CVLAS. Your complaint should be made in writing, and addressed or faxed to: Executive Director, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, P.O. Box 12206, Richmond, VA. 23241, (fax) 804-649-8794.

Your complaint should have your name, address and phone number, and should be signed and dated. Your complaint should explain why you believe you were improperly denied service, or why you are dissatisfied with the manner or quality of legal assistance received.

If you have a complaint about a denial of assistance from CVLAS, you will be given a chance to confer with the Executive Director, who promptly will review your complaint and take appropriate action as needed.

If you have a complaint about the manner or quality of legal assistance received from CVLAS, your complaint will be considered by the Executive Director, who promptly will review your complaint and take appropriate action as needed.

If the action of the Executive Director does not satisfy your complaint, you may make a complaint to the Grievance Committee of CVLAS. The Grievance Committee is made up of lawyers and client members of the Board of Directors of CVLAS. Your complaint should be made in writing, and addressed or faxed to: Grievance Committee, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, P.O. Box 12206, Richmond, VA. 23241, (fax) 804-649-8794.

Your complaint should have your name, address and phone number, and should be signed and dated. Your complaint should explain why you believe you were improperly denied service or why you are dissatisfied with the manner or quality of legal assistance received, and why the action of the Executive Director did not satisfy your complaint.

The Grievance Committee will provide you with a chance for a prompt hearing before the Committee. At the hearing, you may be accompanied by another person, and submit oral and written statements. At the hearing, you make a short oral statement that CVLAS will type and put in CVLAS’s complaint file, pursuant to 45 C.F.R. §1621.3(b)(3). The Grievance Committee will review your complaint and take appropriate action as needed.

If the action of the Grievance Committee does not satisfy your complaint, you may make a complaint to the Legal Services Corporation, 3333 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007.