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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Researching Domestic Violence & the Law: Primary Legal Sources

short guide on resources for researching DV law


Welcome to the primary legal sources page.  

This page of the research guide will help you locate primary legal material related to domestic violence and the law. Each type of primary material-- cases, statutes, regulations, and constitutions-- will have its own information box. On the far right you will find a list of links to popular resources for locating these primary materials.

Case Law

There are many domestic violence related cases. Your course readings may provide you a glance at the major areas and premire cases. To find cases specific to your topic you will need to do some good old-fashioned searching.

In order to find cases relevant to your topic, try these tips:

  • Use annotated codes to find cases which interpret the statute you are studying.
  • Find cases mentioned by secondary materials-- also borrow terms of art and keywords from secondary sources.
  • As with other areas of law, improve the accuracy of your searches by using boolean & proximity.
  • When using WestlawNext look for topic & key numbers relevant to your subject.

Pending Legislation

Be sure to check for bill tracking tools in any jurisdiction who has pending that legislation affects your research. Below are some links for locating current legislation that may be in process at the state or federal level.

Legislative Histories

The Continued Importance of the Violence Against Women Act

Major Federal Statutes & Related Regulations

Like most aspects of law, domestic violence can stem from and intersect with a variety of legal topics. 

The United States Code and the Code of Federal Regulations can be accessed via free government websites. Commercial resources such as WestlawNext, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law can also be used to locate statutes and regulatory resources. [See resource list located in right-hand column.]

Below is a non-exhaustive list of major federal laws related to domestic violence issues. Included are citations to regulations related to each.          

***for administrative materials other than regulations see the Secondary Legal Sources tab                    

State Statutes & Regulations

While the federal government has created many laws and regulations in this area, family law is traditionally within the police powers of the states. States also often have corollary state laws which mirror federal laws. Often these laws provide greater rights than the federal counterpart.

Many states adopt the same or very similar laws.  The Uniform Law Commission acts as a vehicle to help states establish such laws. Use the link located in the right-hand column to search for any uniform laws related tou your topic.

To locate state statutes or regulations you can utilize many of the resources in the link box on the right-hand side. You can also locate state statutes by going to the state website. An A-Z listing of state governmental websites is available from

Below is a non-exhaustive list of state-related resources which may help.

Links to primary law resources

Here are some links to legal databases that can help you locate relevant constitutions, cases, statutes, or regulations (sometimes all four!)