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April's Big News

Joan’s speech begins near the 27-minute mark and covers the evolution of her work and the importance of NFVLC as well as the important work ahead.
Joan has officially been "installed" into the Endowed Chair for the Director of the NFVLC! This endowment ensures that the National Family Violence Law Center at GW Law will continue in perpetuity, as long as GW Law exists! We could not be more grateful to the exceedingly generous donor who has made this possible.
The Violence Against Women Act 2022 (VAWA), including the Keeping Children Safe From Family Violence Act or “Kayden’s Law”, was reauthorized and signed into law last month by President Biden.
NFVLC was honored to be invited to the White House event and attend with Kayden’s mom, Kathy Sherlock, to celebrate this momentous occasion. Joan and Danielle are proud to have drafted this VAWA provision together with Pennsylvania Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and then advanced it together with Kayden’s family, colleagues at RAINN, CJE, Pillsbury LLP, and of course many advocates, including Angelina Jolie.

Kayden’s mom, who has worked closely with us on reforms since her daughter’s murder five years ago, said in an interview following the federal law being enacted: “We are finally being heard. Congress is saying that this is a problem and we need to do something about it by validating what we’ve been saying and screaming for years…we’ve been heard. And we’re not going to stop. We still have a lot of work to do.”
Indeed, there is now much work ahead in the states at NFVLC as we provide the technical assistance to state lawmakers across the country who seek to adopt the VAWA provisions in the specific ways set forth in the new federal law; those states will become eligible for the federal dollars made available by enactment. Please send your interested state lawmakers our way and if you would like to advocate for adoption in your state there are many ways to be involved, including through the advocacy community at the National Safe Parents Organization.
With Vivek Sankaran, Breaking Down the Silos that Harm Children: A Call to Child Welfare, Domestic Violence and Family Court Professionals, 28:3 Va. J. Soc. Pol’y & Law 275 (2022), available at  
With Sean Dickson, Chris O’Sullivan and Leora Rosen, The trouble with Harman and Lorandos’s attempted refutation of the Meier et al. Family Court study, Journal of Family Trauma, Child Custody & Child Development, DOI:10.1080/26904586.2022.2036286, available at (2022)
 In its 15th year, the Battered Mothers Custody Conference (BMCC) is an annual all-volunteer grassroots conference dedicated to providing education, support, and networking opportunities to mothers seeking legal protections for themselves and their children in the family courts.
This year’s event will be held in Albany, New York, on the last weekend in April. Danielle and Joan are each speaking at different times on Sunday, May 1st. For event information, registration, and streaming visit BMCC.
In May, the National Safe Parents Organization, bringing together the nation’s leading family court reform advocacy groups under one umbrella, will be holding its third information session on practical steps to getting the federally enacted Keeping Children Safe From Family Violence Act (VAWA “Kayden’s Law”) provisions adopted in states. Advocates and interested citizens can find out more and register for the May event, visit NSPO.
April 2022: 
Keynote address for 30th anniversary conference “Pearls of Wisdom,” at the University at Buffalo. 
Joan was honored to provide the keynote address for this full-day event honoring the University's Family Violence and Women's Rights Clinic, directed by Judith Olin.
March 2022: 
Empirical and Policy Issues with Abuse Allegations in Custody Litigation
This presentation of the Meier et al empirical study was requested by the Wisconsin Bar Public Interest Law Section and was delivered in partnership with Amber Peterson, Legal Advisor to the Director of State Courts - Office of Court Operations. The primary audience members were Guardians Ad Litem and family lawyers. 
Empirical and Policy Issues with Abuse Allegations in Custody Litigation, for Safe Shores in-service training.
Joan and Danielle had a terrific conversation with the staff of DC's Child Advocacy Center, discussing the challenges of connecting child advocates with civil custody courts, and brainstorming potential avenues for change.
Don’t miss new reporting on the problem of silencing and gag orders on protective parties from Olivia Gentile in the Texas Observer’s A Grandmother is Fighting for Custody of Her Murdered Daughter’s Child. Will She Be Silenced?

Gentile writes: “Advocates for family court reform say the system often prioritizes the wishes of fathers, including abusive ones, over the wellbeing and safety of children.
Many women who speak out against this injustice are silenced and even punished, said Danielle Pollack, policy manager at the National Family Violence Law Center at George Washington University.” In this Texas case, the father murdered the mother and he was convicted of the crime, yet the surviving young child is in the custody of the murder’s – not the victim’s - family.

Meanwhile where an Ohio Bill Would Make Shared Parenting the Default for Child-Custody Cases, Pollack said many custody cases that require court intervention are [deemed] "high conflict", but in fact most of these involve reports of domestic violence. These “high conflict” cases are a major concern for those in opposition of HB 508. "We don't want a presumption of 50/50," said Nancy Fingerhood, a member of the National Safe Parents Coalition. "Because these are the cases where you'll end up giving more access to the abuser." Proponents of these 50/50 presumption bills in many states claim that such laws are responsible for a “reduction in domestic violence”, pointing to Kentucky as an example, but both the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts and the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence (KCADV) challenge claims that there is any correlation.
Give Now
We hope April is bringing you new, exciting opportunities along with delightful spring weather, blooming flowers and nesting birds. 

Joan S. Meier, Esq., National Family Violence Law Center Professor 
Danielle Pollack, Policy Manager
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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