ENDOWMENT FOR CENTER
We are thrilled to announce that as of October 1, the directorship of the National Family Violence Law Center has been permanently endowed, ensuring that the position - and the Center - continue in perpetuity.
As the first holder of the position, Joan Meier is now the "National Family Violence Law Center Professor of Clinical Law." The named professorship (what other schools call a "Chair") was established and supported by an extremely generous gift from an anonymous donor. This endowed position will stay with the Center when Joan retires and will ensure that someone of high quality can be recruited to direct the Center. Notice of a formal installation will be forthcoming!
Danielle and Joan could not be more grateful to this donor for ensuring the longevity of the Center and the ongoing significant support of its work.
LITERATURE ABOUT THE CENTER
We are excited to finally have a formal brochure for the Center! See brochure[Read more].
A new book has been published by Routledge titled Challenging Parental Alienation New Directions for Professionals and Parents. It provides numerous analyses and perspectives indicating that the use of the "parental alienation" label in cases involving family violence is both illegitimate and deeply harmful.
Professor Meier authored Chapter 11 titled, Questioning the Scientific Validity of the Parental Alienation Label in Abuse Cases. This important resource is available for preorder now.
Danielle and Joan recently published a detailed overview of the Center's recent legislative work. Custody Laws Put Safety First introduces the current movement for family court change and describes a set of federal and state reforms that have recently been achieved or are in progress. It also discusses some key policy issues which have arisen in the development of these reforms, while offering the authors’ perspectives and guidance to future policy advocates.
THURSDAY EVENT: Allen v Farrow Panel Four with Dylan, Lori, Danielle, and Jamie
The special fourth and final talk for our Allen v Farrow panel series will stream live this Thursday evening (10/21) at 9 pm ET on Jane Doe Films Facebook page. Panelists will be Dylan Farrow, child survivor at the center of the docuseries, Dr. Lori Pitts who founded Incest Aware and works with sexual assault survivors, and NFVLC Policy Manager Danielle Pollack who leads our Legislative Clearinghouse.
The moderator for this panel is one of the Allen v Farrow producers, Jamie Rogers, who is responsible for spearheading the creation of this important panel series. We hope you can join us!
On Oct. 21, Danielle will present at a workshop on Connecticut’s newly expanded definition of domestic violence to include coercive control and how Jennifers’ Law can impact the handling of DV in family court proceedings and civil restraining orders. The event is organized by CPM. Speakers include coercive control experts Evan Stark, Ph.D., and Lisa Fontes Ph.D., along with NFVLC’s Danielle Pollack who advised on Jennifers’ Law. More info and registration.
On Nov. 5, Joan will present during a full-day virtual conference on protecting children from family violence in the context of custody and divorces cases. The event is hosted by the UCI Initiative to End Family Violence and California Protective Parents Association. More information and registration.
LEGISLATIVE ACTION – FLORIDA, PENNSYLVANIA, RHODE ISLAND
NFVLC has been providing consultation to Florida lawmakers and advocates on “Greyson’s Law”, named after a four-year-old boy who was brutally murdered by his father earlier this year after the family court denied the protective mother’s request for an emergency injunction to keep the child safe from harm. Greyson’s surviving mom, Ali Kessler, together with Florida Representative Greico, appeared on national news to discuss it. You can watch the segment on MSNBC here. On October 23, Danielle will participate with Florida lawmakers in a panel organized by a local court watch group to discuss the bill and NFVLC’s work in more detail.
Rhode Island advocates and lawmakers sought out NFVLC’s guidance to initiate custody reform legislation in their state and dialogues are advancing there. Watch this space for updates.
On November 15, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing led by Chairmen Kauffman (R) and Briggs (D) on “Kayden’s Law”, after the bill passed the PA Senate in a bi-partisan 46-4 vote in June. The bill is named after Kayden Mancuso, a seven-year-old child murdered by a dangerous father after a Pennsylvania court awarded him unsupervised custody time. A federal bill of the same name, led by a Pennsylvania Congressman, and on which NFVLC has advised extensively, is currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate after passing the U.S. House earlier this year as a provision of VAWA.
Advocate & Protective Mother Libby Leonard Killed on the Day She Demonstrated for Reform
October 15 marked what should have been Kayden Mancuso’s 11th birthday. Kayden’s family and advocates gathered and demonstrated at the Pennsylvania courthouse which had issued the custody order preceding her murder. There they honored Kayden as they do every year on her birthday and demanded more protective custody reforms to prevent other tragedies.
One advocate and protective mother, Libby Leonard, who participated in the event Friday spoke at length with Danielle about her ongoing custody litigation regarding her two young children and her hopes for custody reform. Her case involves a long history of documented abuse by her ex (and a cross-claim against her of “alienation”) including her near-fatal strangulation by her abusive ex for which he was on probation, child abuse confirmed by child welfare, and her being in the address confidentiality program due to extreme danger to which they were exposed. Libby was in fear for her and her children’s lives and suspected that her 5-year-old had been pressured to reveal her address during a court-ordered visit with the father. She expressed deep concern about taking her younger child, age 5, later that evening for another court-ordered visitation.
Libby was hopeful and energized, though, about getting more involved in advocacy and providing testimony to state lawmakers about the urgency for protective custody reforms.
At 7:45 pm Friday after her daughter went to the father for supervised visitation, Libby texted the message you see here. She was murdered in her home shortly after that at about midnight. A suspect who was friends with the father and Libby has been arrested and the investigation is ongoing. NFVLC sends our deepest sympathies to Libby’s loved ones and fervent hopes for the safety of her children.
Our commitment to changing the system that facilitates such crimes is even stronger. Joan S. Meier, Esq., Professor of Clinical Law and Director
Danielle Pollack, Policy Manager
National Family Violence Law Center
George Washington University Law School
You can give using the button below, or if you prefer, by mailing a check made out to George Washington University Law School, with National Family Violence Law Center at GW in the memo line, to:
George Washington University
PO Box 98131
Washington, DC 20077-9756