Domestic Violence

The Challenge

In the Family Court, we represent children in child protective cases (neglect and abuse) and custody and visitation proceedings. Nearly 20 percent of child protective cases (1 in 5) involve domestic violence (DV), also called intimate partner violence. Children are often unnecessarily removed from their homes or suffer a disruption of the parent/child relationship solely because one of their parents is a victim of domestic violence. These children face trauma first from violence in the home, then from being taken from their homes, and again from being placed in foster care while their cases are resolved.

In the Integrated Domestic Violence Court, we represent children in high-conflict custody and visitation cases where one of the parents has been arrested for alleged acts of violence. Often, our clients have witnessed violence or been directly affected by the violence in their homes.

LFC’s Response

Lawyers For Children’s Domestic Violence Project provides specialized and comprehensive legal and social work services to children who have been exposed to domestic violence. The mission of the DV Project is to give children a voice in proceedings involving intimate partner violence, while also preventing or mitigating the trauma children face when exposed to domestic violence. The DV Project team identifies domestic violence issues in a wide spectrum of cases (foster care, abuse, neglect, family offense, custody and visitation) and provides individualized interdisciplinary advocacy to help our clients achieve their goals. We also seek to find appropriate services in a timely manner; prevent unnecessary placements into foster care, and ensure that children maintain access to both parents where appropriate.

In addition to direct advocacy for our individual clients, the Domestic Violence Project is involved in education and advocacy efforts. In our education and outreach work, we provide interdisciplinary training to lawyers, social workers, and mental health professionals. In our advocacy work, we are active in coalitions and workgroups dedicated to improving access to vital services, such as supervised visitation and visitation coaching, as well as to contributing to systemic improvements to end the cycle of intrafamilial violence.

The project is staffed by the Project Director, an attorney whose legal practice centers on the Integrated Domestic Violence Part in Supreme Court, a senior attorney whose legal practice focuses on Manhattan Family Court cases, and two experienced, licensed Master’s-level social workers who have expertise and training in all areas of intimate partner violence, including the trauma associated with domestic violence and safety planning.