Self-represented litigants: Reform protection order process and better written information (Delaware)

Delaware made significant changes to its process for obtaining protection from abuse (PFA) orders. First, they redecorated the resource center to make the court environment more welcoming, used trauma-informed principles to reconfigure the space and process to increase privacy, and incorporated safety considerations. Next, Delaware developed a “core document” with information to help self-represented victims in PFA orders and custody matters. Using the core document, the site created one-page infographics, visually interesting and intuitive charts to address key questions that frequently arise in such cases, such as what a PFA order can do, differences between types of PFA orders, different aspects of custody, and how to tell whether Delaware has jurisdiction over child custody. Some of these were made into posters to display in the resource center and waiting areas. Delaware also created a packet of materials, in multiple languages, for PFA orders to assist self-represented litigants. Finally, a second hearing day was added to relieve congestion and allow matters to be heard more promptly, with on-site advocates and legal aid or volunteer attorneys available to offer legal assistance and support.