SIDEBAR Fall 2018 - 29

MONTGOMERYBAR.ORG

Bucks, Delaware, and Philadelphia Counties and obtained over
$200,000 per year in child or spousal support for represented
clients. Because of the support they received, nearly 95% of
such clients were able to increase their level of self-sufficiency.
Of the 170 people served, only 9 (5.3%) failed to complete
the comprehensive Laurel House program and returned to
their abusers. Colleen F. Coonelly, Esquire, a member of the
Board of Directors of Laurel House and a lawyer with 30 years
of experience in domestic violence representation, clinical law
teaching, and the creation and administration of pro bono
programs for lawyers, serves as the Director of Legal Services.
The legal system can be especially punishing to an
unrepresented victim/survivor of domestic violence. While
various state and federal laws offer protections and remedies for
victims of domestic violence, survivors need a lawyer to identify
and pursue these protections and remedies. Domestic violence
victims frequently report that they don't leave an abuser because
they fear losing custody of their child or children. Courtordered child support can be an essential step toward economic
self-sufficiency for a survivor of domestic violence. Apart from
the societal costs of domestic abuse, individual economic
self-sufficiency affects the rate of recidivism among female
domestic violence victims because: 1) women with children
are more likely to be economically dependent on their abusive
partners; 2) women with children lack the legal resources
to obtain custody of their children or secure child support,
forcing them to remain in an abusive situation in order to keep
their children; and 3) women who do leave have difficulty in
maintaining an adequate standard of living for themselves and
their children. The process of reaching out for assistance and
initiating changes can be beneficial in its own right for victims
of domestic violence.

These civil legal representation programs aid those
who would otherwise be unable to secure or afford legal
representation with the necessary tools and resources to achieve
physical safety and economic resources for themselves and their
children. Laurel House, a highly respected, comprehensive
non-profit domestic violence agency, provides supportive and
preventative services throughout Montgomery County. Laurel
House has the only domestic violence shelter in the County.
Laurel House's Hotline is the entry point for victims/
survivors of domestic violence who are seeking help from
Laurel House. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week. 1-800-642-3150 https://laurel-house.org
LASP has a toll-free Protection from Abuse Helpline
serving Montgomery County. By calling 1-855-980-6924,
individuals can speak with an attorney or paralegal
regarding protection orders. Helpline hours are Monday Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Those who call at other times
may leave a voicemail. For more information:
http://lasp.org/how-lasp-can-help

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https://montgomerybar.org/ https://www.laurel-house.org http://www.lasp.org/how-lasp-can-help

SIDEBAR Fall 2018

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