Court filing fees going up to support domestic violence legal program

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Some court filing fees will be going up, and the proceeds will help pay legal fees of victims of domestic violence.

The $5 to $25 hike in justice and district court fees will raise around $23,000 for the Volunteer Attorneys for Rural Nevadans, a free legal program providing legal services in civil cases to those living under the federal poverty level as well as those suffering from domestic abuse. Carson City supervisors approved the court fees on Thursday.

Mayor Ray Masayko previously asked city officials to see if Court Appointed Special Advocates, a state-mandated program which provides children in the foster care system a volunteer advocate, could benefit from the fee increase as well.

The Legislature last year passed Assembly Bill 239, which allows a $5 fee on top of answer or appearance fees when filing in district or justice court as well as a $25 fee to modify or adjust final district court orders in divorce or child custody matters.

City Manager John Berkich said the bill was meant to specifically help domestic violence victims, and couldn't be used to help CASA. However, Berkich said city officials may ask the legislature in 2003 to consider amending the bill to allow CASA to benefit from the funding.

Masayko said while he commended the work of VARN attorneys, he was concerned about sending money into the program without being told specifically what the money would be used for.

Ray Rodriguez, attorney with Nevada Legal Services, said the money would directly benefit the domestic violence program, which has grown since the Soroptimists last year eliminated their legal fee program for domestic violence victims.

VARN runs on a $200,000 a year budget. Funds help pay travel costs to rural areas and training as well as to retain an in-house attorney. Douglas County also passed an ordinance recently to increase filing fees to support the program.


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