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Springing Forward

We've been busy over the past month. Here are the highlights:
The much anticipated The trouble with Harman and Lorandos’s attempted refutation of the Meier et al. Family court study was published online February 28th in the Journal of Family Trauma, Child Custody & Child Development and is accessible to all. 
This is the first of a two-part response to the attack on Joan and team’s landmark study, which found that when mothers claimed any type of abuse in custody litigation, if fathers responded by claiming parental alienation, then the mothers were twice as likely to lose custody as when fathers did not claim alienation. In the study’s stark conclusion: “alienation trumps abuse.”

Response Excerpt: “Harman and Lorandos assert that they have produced a study analyzing custody cases involving alienation allegations, which “disconfirms” the findings from our study of family court outcomes in cases involving abuse and alienation. In addition to pointing out the authors’ misrepresentation and mis-reporting of some of their findings, this Response details a series of profound flaws in their study’s design, dataset construction and variable coding, interpretations and analytic approach, as well as a series of statistical errors.
FEDERAL – In February in a bipartisan effort, U.S. Senators Feinstein, Ernst, Durbin, and Murkowski introduced the Senate negotiated Violence Against Women Act of 2022, together with special guest and child advocate Angelina Jolie who gave a moving speech.
VAWA from both the House and Senate includes “Kayden’s Law”, a provision which NFVLC drafted and developed together w Pennsylvania Congressman Fitzpatrick at his request. The Keeping Children Safe from Family Violence Act or “Kayden’s Law” in VAWA provides financial incentives to states to improve their child custody laws by:
  • restricting expert testimony to only those who are appropriately qualified to provide it;
  • limiting the use of reunification camps and therapies which cannot be proven to be safe and effective; and
  • providing evidence-based ongoing training to judges and court personnel on family violence subject matter, including child sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, coercive control, implicit and explicit bias, trauma, long and short-term impacts of domestic violence and child abuse on children, and victim and perpetrator behaviors.
If the Senate passes VAWA with 60 votes it will go back to the House, where it already passed in 2021, to be approved and then sent to the President for signature.

STATE – The Center continues its work advising lawmakers and advocates on statutory reforms and testifying before state legislative bodies. The past month was especially busy in Maryland, Florida, Ohio, Washington, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Congratulations to the Maryland Senate which unanimously passed SB 17, a bill which grew out of the Governor’s Custody Workgroup recommendations and which survivor parents testified and wrote about, including here in a Washington Post OpEd.

As part of a Practicing Law Institute half-day event, Joan participated in a panel with Professor Merle Weiner on Addressing Domestic Violence 2022: The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction and Its Intersection with Child Custody Law.
Subjects covered include an overview of the Hague Convention, 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. The presentation is available online here. CE Ethics credit is available for professionals.
The Supreme Court is poised to hear an important Hague/DV case, Golan v. Saada, on March 22. The Center assisted with an amicus brief and will also assist the mother's lawyer in her preparation for the oral argument.  
At issue is whether, upon finding that return to the country of habitual residence places a child at grave risk, a district court is required to consider ameliorative measures that would facilitate the return of the child notwithstanding the grave risk finding. The brief argues the Court should reject the Second Circuit’s requirement that federal district courts consider ameliorative measures once they find grave risk based on domestic violence.

On March 17th, on the occasion of the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women is convening a panel on the use of “parental alienation” in custody cases. This special event is being organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Joan and other international experts will present. You are invited to attend virtually.
We at the Center are very excited about Joan's induction into the newly endowed Chair for the Director of the National Family Violence Law Center at GW, on March 24. The event will be recorded and, if permission is granted, shared in a future newsletter. We could not be more appreciative of the anonymous donor who is making this possible.
Give Now
We hope your spring is off to a warm start.

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
Copyright © 2022 National Family Violence Law Center at GW, All rights reserved.

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