We've been incredibly busy over the past month. Here are the highlights:
Created in 2021, the New York Blue-Ribbon Commission on Forensic Custody Evaluations issued its report this month with 11 recommendations for the Governor and legislature to consider.
Joan was the only non-New York-based member invited onto the Commission by the Governor. She was deeply impressed with the other members and quite pleased with the final report. The State charged the Commission with examining the well-documented flaws in forensic custody evaluations and the Commission formed three subcommittees to focus on issues pertaining to: 1) the use of forensic evaluations within the court process; 2) potential training and certification requirements for forensic evaluators; and 3) bias within the system. Commission members agreed that forensic evaluations are ordered too frequently, and judges may place undue reliance upon them. A majority of Commission members took the position that, because evaluations are so often biased and harmful and lacking in genuine scientific value, they should be eliminated. If they are not eliminated, the Commission unanimously recommends a series of substantial reforms, including required training, tightened up and transparent accountability mechanisms, significant limitations on reliance on evaluations, and other restrictions.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
On January 19th during a day of action organized by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and other groups,
the child rights advocate, UN Special Envoy, and actress Angelina Jolie spoke out on the need for increased legal protections for children at risk of maltreatment and for Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). During her speech, Jolie emphasized that children are being murdered as a result of disastrous family court decisions, and others are suffering ongoing abuse. She specified that the provision of VAWA, Kayden's Law, which addresses family courts, must be passed. The provision would incentivize all states to improve their child custody laws and address system failures, which have resulted in preventable child abuse by a parent and murders of many children in the U.S., such as Kayden Mancuso in Pennsylvania and Aramazd "Piqui" Andressian in California. Due to family courts routinely minimizing or dismissing credible safety concerns raised by a protective parent, too many preventable child killings have been committed by a dangerous parent after being awarded custody time by the court. VAWA reauthorization is awaiting approval in the U.S. Senate. You can watch Angelina Jolie’s speech here.
Concerning international custody cases, Joan will present at Addressing Domestic Violence 2022: The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction and Its Intersection with Child Custody Law, a program on February 4th hosted by the Practicing Law Institute.
The half-day event will include an overview of the Hague Convention and ICARA and the interplay with state custody law, defenses to the application of the Hague Convention, and ethical considerations in Hague Convention and related child custody cases. Continuing Education credits and scholarshipsare available; please pass this opportunity on to anyone you think would be interested. If you are interested in attending, more information and registration are here.
PUBLICATIONS & PRESS
We were pleased to see Custody Peace create a wonderful summary of The 25 Most Positive & Hopeful Family Court Reform Moments of 2021, about half of which NFVLC played a role in or launched! We are so thankful for the ever-growing community of people invested in creating improved outcomes for children and safe parents in our family courts.
She was also interviewed and quoted in a Washington Post story Who Gets the Child?, which looks at Kentucky’s shared parenting law.
Friends of the Center, the Court Watch Montgomery is seeking a new Executive Director to provide vision, energy and leadership in our efforts to make systemic improvements/changes in how our courts manage civil and criminal domestic violence cases. See the posting.
The Network for Victim Recovery of DC also has three exciting attorney positions open. See the postings.
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 "Give Now" button above, 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