Manatt Secures Pro Bono Victory in Domestic Violence Parenting and Support Case

Manatt Appellate Partner Joanna McCallum and Health Care Litigation Partner Jessamyn Vedro represented C., a Washington parent, in the successful appeal of a Parenting Plan entered by the court. The Parenting Plan would have awarded joint decision-making over C.’s child with a co-parent, who had six prior convictions for domestic violence. Manatt successfully argued that a Washington statute precluded joint decision-making. 
The appeal, filed in conjunction with the Family Violence Appellate Project, resulted from a 2017 ruling in which the child’s other parent, L., filed a petition seeking entry of a Parenting Plan. Following an eight-day bench trial at which C. represented herself, the trial court entered a Parenting Plan that ordered joint decision-making and dispute resolution by mediation, despite L.’s admitted domestic violence convictions. A Washington statute provides that when a parent has a “history of acts of domestic violence,” a Parenting Plan cannot award joint decision-making regarding the child’s education and nonemergency health care and cannot require the parents to engage in any dispute resolution procedure other than judicial action. It was undisputed that L. had six prior convictions for domestic violence, but the trial court decided not to apply the statute because his last conviction was ten years earlier. 
C.’s appeal contested the decision on the ground that the Washington statute is mandatory, with no exception for the passage of time, so the time that had elapsed since L.’s convictions was not a permissible basis to disregard the statute. The Washington Court of Appeals issued a published opinion in favor of C. on December 27, 2022. 
The Family Violence Appellate Project provides free legal services in domestic violence-related appellate cases that can create new law favorable to domestic violence survivors. Learn more about this case here, and read the full published opinion here.


pursuant to New York DR 2-101(f)

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