Congressman Dan Donovan announces support for Federal Resolution H. Con. 72 (2017-2018) to protect victims of child abuse and domestic violence in family court.

(New York NY): Congressman Dan Donovan (R. Staten Island) announced his support for Federal Resolution H. Con. 72, which advises judges to make the health and safety of children their top priority. It is intended to prevent the disturbing trend of family court judges giving custody or unsupervised visits to domestic abusers or child abusers.

“When I was District Attorney, I instructed the prosecutors on my staff to always make the welfare of victims their top priority when trying abuse cases. This common sense resolution reinforces what should already be standard practice, but unfortunately isn’t in many cases. Abusers shouldn’t get custody of their kids, and the child’s welfare should be the paramount concern for judges.”

“Research from the Department of Justice shows that in family and custody courts across the country, children are systematically and frequently given to parents who abuse the child, abuse their partner, or both. Children and domestic violence victims are killed this way every year, and thousands more suffer trauma so profound it affects their long-term health. Federal Resolution H. Con. 72 will be a dramatic step towards fixing this horrible situation” said Andrew Willis, founder of the Stop Abuse Campaign.

The resolution was crafted by advocates for domestic violence survivors and their children. This resolution will have an important influence over state decisions, and lawyers can cite the resolution for its persuasive value. This resolution is an important step to protecting children in all 50 states, and I commend Congressman Donovan along with the rest of the resolution’s sponsors ” says Barry Goldstein, research director for the Stop Abuse Campaign and an expert on domestic violence and custody.

Recent research shows that in contested custody cases when there are allegations of domestic violence, the abuser will receive custody 73% of the time, that alleged child abusers got custody 69% of the time and when there were allegations of child sexual abuse the alleged abuser won custody 81% of the time. Contested custody cases make up a very small percent of all divorces but are strongly linked to domestic violence. In essence, abusers seek custody of their children to further manipulate or control their partner who has left them.

Con. 72 relies on research like the Adverse Childhood Experiences study by the CDC to demonstrate that exposure to child abuse and domestic violence cause permanent, long-term harm to children, which affects their health and safety. Currently, the child’s health and safety is one of many considerations that judges need to take into account, which means shocking decisions in which judges acknowledge evidence of child sexual abuse in their decisions and still award custody to the alleged abuser are legitimate and technically beyond appeal.   




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