Without a Lawyer, but Not Without Help

Most family court custody cases have at least one participant who is not represented by an attorney. Cases with self-represented litigants (SRL) make up between 70% and 90% of all family court cases. Unsurprisingly, then, the majority of survivors of domestic violence who seek remedies through the family court do so without the help of an attorney. While having a lawyer is recommended, the harsh reality is that there are simply not enough pro bono or legal aid lawyers to meet the great need.

Findings from interviews with SRLs suggest that they feel disadvantaged in court compared to those with legal representation, perceive that representing themselves negatively impacts their case outcomes, and believe that representing themselves adds stress to an already taxing experience.3 For survivors of domestic violence, these challenges are magnified: a survivor is typically at a financial disadvantage, the presence of domestic violence often complicates the case, and in addition to the typical stress of a family court case, a survivor is often trying to manage trauma, both the survivor’s own and the children’s.

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Parents Have a Role in Ending Teen Dating Violence

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. As the mother of a son who recently graduated from college, I know how difficult it can be to discuss dating and healthy relationships with a teenager. As a long-time advocate against domestic violence, I also know how important it is for parents to have these conversations with their children starting at an early age. Unfortunately, there is a myth in our society shared by many adults that teens do not experience dating violence or, if they do, the violence is not very severe.

This may be one reason why nearly three in four parents with children under the age of 18 have never talked to their children about domestic violence.1 The reality of teen dating violence, however, is that one in five high school girls and one in ten high school boys will be involved in an abusive relationship in the next 12 months,2 and 58 percent of young women aged 18 to 22 know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a dating partner.3

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Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody’s (RCDV: CPC) inaugural issue of The Resource Center Newsletter!


Happy New Year and welcome to the Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody’s (RCDV: CPC) inaugural issue of The Resource Center Newsletter!

We hope that, over the coming months, you and your colleagues read these electronic newsletters with as much as enthusiasm as our team brings to their creation. Within each electronic newsletter, you will find blogs from our staff and invited guests on critical issues, innovative collaborations, promising practice, and changing policies affecting domestic violence work as it intersects with child protection and child custody systems. We will also highlight job opportunities and relevant new resources, research, and learning opportunities from the RCDV: CPC, NCJFCJ, and our partners across the country.

In November of 2018, the RCDV: CPC staff gathered for a full day to consider our national leadership as a resource center and to identify the issues and/or projects we hope to explore and support in the coming year. Those issues and projects will be highlighted here each month.

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Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody.


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