“This resolution aims to ensure that states know Congress believes child safety should be the top concern in custody cases, and we look forward to helping raise public awareness about these important issues. Our hope is that this resolution will lead to far fewer cases of child abuse and death at the hands of abusive parents.” – Attorney Craig Saperstein, worked on the Pillsbury team that drafted and advocated for the resolution.
A Call to Action!
We need your help to pass an important resolution that would make child safety a top priority in child custody and visitation decisions made by family courts. Also requiring state courts to assess safety risks, and allegations of domestic or child abuse before considering other best interest factors.
The bill also urges Congress to “…schedule hearings on family courts’ practices with regard to the objective, fair, and adjudication of children’s safety and civil rights.”
Read the proposed bill: H.Con.Res.150 – Expressing the sense of Congress that child safety is the first priority of custody and visitation adjudications, and that state courts should improve adjudications of custody where family violence is alleged.
House Concurrent Resolution 150 is co-sponsored by Congress members Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) and was introduced in the House in September 2016.
“Protecting our children is one of the most important things that we can do for society.
Unfortunately, some courts are overlooking potential signs of abuse and are relying on scientifically unsound factors to make decisions that impact a child’s life.
Courts should resolve all claims of abuse independently before looking at any other factors in deciding custody or visitation. An independent and rigorous investigation into claims of abuse, coupled with heightened evidentiary standards, will help courts prevent the endangerment of any child.” ~ Congressman Ted Poe on Resolution 150
Child abuse is a major public health issue in the United States, approximately 15 million children are exposed each year to domestic violence and/or child abuse.
Survivors of domestic violence are often involved in child custody proceedings with their abuser. Similarly, child abuse allegations often surface in family court. Systemic failures in family court are failing to address or properly investigate abuse allegations, and result in rulings that reject reports of abuse, and rulings put the lives of children at risk of further harm or abuse. Research shows that abusive parents are often granted custody or unprotected visitation by courts, placing children at ongoing risk; and that a child’s risk of abuse increases after a perpetrator of domestic violence separates from a domestic partner, even if the perpetrator has not previously abused the child.
House Concurrent Resolution 150 attempts to address these issues by putting into federal law:
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring) That it is the sense of Congress that—
(1) child safety is the first priority of custody and visitation adjudications, and courts should resolve safety risks and claims of family violence first, as a fundamental consideration, before assessing other best interest factors;
(2) quasi-scientific evidence should be admitted by courts only when it meets admissibility standards for scientific evidence;
(3) evidence from court-affiliated or appointed fee-paid professionals regarding adult or child abuse allegations in custody cases should be considered only when the professional possesses documented expertise and experience in the relevant types of abuse, trauma, and the behaviors of victims and perpetrators;
(4) States should define required standards of expertise and experience for appointed fee-paid professionals who provide evidence to the court on abuse, trauma and behaviors of victims and perpetrators, should specify requirements for the contents of such professional reports, and should require courts to find that any appointed professionals meet those standards;
(5) States should consider models under which court-appointed professionals are paid directly by the courts, with potential reimbursement by the parties after due consideration of the parties’ financial circumstances; and
(6) Congress should schedule hearings on family courts’ practices with regard to the objective, fair, and adjudication of children’s safety and civil rights.
HOW YOU CAN HELP move this Resolution forward
- Look up who your Representative Is: Find Your Representative
- Call or Write your Representative to ask him/her to become a co-sponsor of Resolution 150. You may also join efforts with a local group, advocacy group or support group.
- Repost and Share links to Resolution 150 on your social media accounts.
- Share Resolution 150 with friends, family and associates and suggest that they support Resolution 150 in the same way
For More Information: