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Mediation and domestic violence in child custody cases

Some Pennsylvania parents who have been the victims of domestic violence may find themselves embroiled in a child custody dispute with their abuser. It is important for them to inform the court in order to receive adequate protection throughout their cases. Doing so can also help protect the child's health, welfare and safety.

In many family law cases, courts will order the parties undergo mediation. An alternative dispute resolution process, mediation is designed to facilitate agreements between the child's parents to reach a solution to their child custody disputes. The law specifically states that a judge may not order mediation in a case in which issues of domestic violence have occurred either prior to the case or during it. A person should thus inform the court if they have been a victim of domestic violence so they are not ordered to go through mediation with their abuser.

At other times, victims of domestic violence may be scared to seek and request child support for their child from their former abuser, believing that doing so will subject both themselves and their child to potential danger. In the event this is an issue, people may request that the authorities keep their address, phone number and employer information confidential from the other party. They can then seek child support without fear of their contact information being released.

If domestic violence has been an issue, people may want to discuss it with their family law attorney. Such an attorney may then file motions with the court to preserve a client's confidentiality and may also file motions to inform the court of the domestic violence history in order to prevent a mediation order. If the child's safety would be endangered by visitation with the other parent, attorneys may seek a sole custody order for their clients.

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