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Custody Laws Put Safety First  

Author:  Danielle Pollack.; Joan Meier.

Source: Volume 27, Number 01, October/November 2021 , pp.11-15(5)

Domestic Violence Report

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Over the past five years there has been growing attention to the failure of child custody courts to protect children at risk from a dangerous parent. One response has been mounting pressure for stronger custody laws to better protect children in these cases. Armed with new research about disturbing family court outcomes, advocates, experts, and survivors of nightmarish experiences in family courts are slowly but deliberately advancing federal and state statutory reforms aimed at addressing the problem. These reforms seek to ensure that courts prioritize children’s safety over parents’ rights, close gaps between the private custody and child welfare systems for at-risk children and improve judicial and court personnel training standards. This article briefly introduces the movement for family court change and describes a set of federal and state reforms that have recently been achieved or are in progress. It then 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. Danielle Pollack is Policy Manager and Joan Meier is founder of the National Family Violence Law Center at George Washington University Law School.

Keywords: Family Court Reform; Federal Statutory Developments; Child Welfare and Private Custody

Affiliations:  1: National Family Violence Law Center; 2: NFVLC.

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