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General Laws

Section 5B. A person or agency, including the IV-D agency, seeking personal data which the IV-D agency is prohibited from disclosing because of a risk of harm, but which could otherwise be disclosed pursuant to subsection (a) of section 5A, or which the Federal Parent Locator Service established pursuant to Title IV, Part D of the Social Security Act is prohibited from disclosing because the secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services has been notified that there is reasonable evidence of domestic violence or child abuse, may file a petition with the probate and family court where the person resides, or in the case of an agency, with the probate and family court of Suffolk county, to request disclosure of such personal data. The petition shall specify the purposes for which such personal data is required. When a petition is filed under this section, or when the court receives notice from the IV-D agency that the IV-D agency has been notified of a risk of harm pursuant to said section 5A, the court shall determine whether disclosure of personal data could be harmful to the parent or child before releasing such data to any other person or agency. In making such determination, the court shall notify the parent that the court has received a request to release personal data and shall provide a specific date by which the parent must object to release of the information and provide the basis for objection. The parent may provide such information in writing and shall not be required to appear in person to contest the release of information. The court shall also notify the IV-D agency of any petition filed pursuant to this section and the IV-D agency shall provide the court with any reasonable evidence of the risk of harm which has been provided to the IV-D agency pursuant to said section 5A; provided, however, that the IV-D agency shall not be made a party to the action, except upon good cause shown. The court may also request information directly from the Federal Parent Locator Service, from the IV-D agency of another state, and from any other source.

In determining whether disclosure of personal data could be harmful to the parent or child, the court shall consider any relevant information provided by the parent or child, any information provided by the IV-D agency or by the IV-D agency of another state, any evidence provided by the person seeking the personal data, whether the address of the parent or child has been impounded pursuant to sections 3 and 8 of chapter 209A, and any other relevant evidence, including information contained in the records of the statewide domestic violence record keeping system maintained by the office of the commissioner of probation. Documentary evidence transmitted to the court by facsimile, telecopier, or other means that do not provide an original writing may not be excluded from evidence on an objection based on the means of transmission. The court may permit a party or witness to be deposed or to testify by telephone, audiovisual means, or other electronic means.

The court shall not enter an order to disclose personal data without reviewing all of the information that has been provided to the court and shall not draw an adverse inference from the failure of the parent to appear in person to contest disclosure of information. The court may enter an order (1) impounding the personal data and prohibiting any disclosure by the court or its agents, (2) permitting disclosure by the court or its agents to a specific person or persons, (3) prohibiting disclosure by the court or its agents to a specific person or persons, or (4) removing any restrictions on disclosure by the court and its agents. An order permitting disclosure of personal data may specify the purposes for which the data may be used and may prohibit a person to whom the data is disclosed from making further disclosures to any other person. The court shall notify the IV-D agency of any order entered pursuant to this section. Any person or agency who violates an order issued pursuant to this section may be held in contempt of court and subject to the penalties provided in said section 5A.

The court may disclose location information about a parent for the limited purpose of notifying the parent of a proceeding under this section or of any other proceeding in the probate and family court, provided that such information shall not be disclosed to another party unless the court issues an order pursuant to this section permitting such disclosure.

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