The Safe Child Act which is a bill that would require custody courts to make the health and safety of children the first priority. It would mandate what the courts have been slow to do — integrate evidence-based approaches, multi-disciplinary practices and trauma-informed responses. I have had the privilege of meeting with some state legislators who care dearly about children and I expect will soon introduce the Safe Child Act. It is time that custody courts stop practices that pressure victims to cooperate with their abusers and instead force abusers to stop their abuse if they want a relationship with their children. It is time for the courts to integrate important research into their practices. It is time to reform outdated practices from the 1970s.
Judge Gill’s essay actually provides a compelling snapshot of limitations that serve to constrict policy and practice related to helping victims of domestic violence stay safe. Judge Gill offers clear evidence as to how and why our judicial system must do better.
Though we want to think it is so, the recent death of 7-month-old Aaden Moreno at the hands of his father was not a rare event, but an all-too-common outcome of a child custody case. The child’s mother had sought a protective order based on the father’s history of abuse and threats against the mother and child. There is now a substantial body of scientific research that would make family court judges’ jobs easier, but our children will not be protected until we rely on domestic violence experts instead of general practitioners and integrate this important research into the standard court practices. The Safe Child Act is an evidence-based approach requiring that the health and safety of children must be the first priority in all custody and visitation decisions.
Two bills currently before the legislature would greatly expand protections for victims of domestic violence by ensuring that if a judge determines a victim is in imminent danger and grants a temporary restraining order, all firearms must be taken away from the person being served with the order. It’s time Connecticut closed a dangerous and unnecessary loophole that jeopardizes women’s safety and security in the home.