Putting Pen to Paper


Putting Pen to Paper

Posted by Julia Fletcher

November 14, 2010

At least we’ve done something to protect abused children in our nation’s family courts. Variations of Richard Ducote’s Protective Parent Reform Act and similar legislation have been circulating around this country for over 10 years. 

 This is from Custodyprepformoms:

Illinois:   HB 360 amends the section of the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act dealing with child-custody proceedings. (Effective date:  1/1/06) Specifically, it eliminates the role of a child representative.  The amendment is the result of a November ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court dealing with Norma Perez’ child-custody case. Justices ruled her rights were violated because her attorney was not allowed to cross-examine the child representative assigned to her case. A DuPage County judge granted Perez’s ex-husband, R. Edward Bates, sole custody of their daughter based, in part, on the representative’s report.  While the ruling did not directly affect her custody situation, it helped change the law.  She lost custody in 2002 after a dispute in which Bates and court-appointed psychologists accused her of parental alienation syndrome. The syndrome is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association or other medical associations.The use of PAS against mothers in child-custody cases continues to be worrisome to Perez, and she hopes to make changes regarding the use of PAS in court. But, she said she feels the bill is a major step toward making reforms in family law.

Excerpted from the full story at  http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/couriernews/city/e01normalaw.htm

Bill text: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=094-0640&print=true

Alaska:  HB 385 passed with a unanimous vote in both the Alaska House and Senate on 5/11/04.  To summarize, this bill:  

  • elevates the weighting of domestic violence in the best  interest of the child factors
  • makes consideration of domestic violence a factor in temporary custody decisions, and not based just solely on equal and frequent contact
  • disallows the “friendly parent” provision where there is domestic violence/child abuse (its difficult for a victim or protective parent to really be “friendly” with someone that abuses you or your children)
  • institutes a rebuttable presumption that batterers will not get custody of children.


Arizona: Assembly Bill HB2348 passed the Arizona Senate on 5/26/04. 

This bill allows disposition of community property, calculation of spousal maintenance and determination of child support to occur with consideration of criminal conviction for acts against the spouse or child.  It also included the following:  

1) No custody or unsupervised visitation to sex offenders or murderers.
2) Courts shall consider financial ability when ordering services, evaluations, etc.
3) Evaluator will swear and affirm on EACH evaluation that he/she is up to date with the training.
4) 6 hours initial training on child abuse.
5) 6 hours initial training on domestic violence.
6) 4 hours every other year on child abuse and domestic violence.
7) Minimum standards for training created by Domestic Relations Committee.
8) 2 more senators and 2 more House members on Domestic Relations Committee.

Hawaii:  HB 1980-SD1, filed at the State House of Representatives of Hawaii on 4/07/04 eliminates closed hearings in Family Court Child Protective Services (CPS) matters, allows parents involved in CPS matters to bring a non-lawyer advocate to hearings, requires the Supreme Court to review Family Court judges and requires Family Court judges to enforce perjury statutes.

Tennessee:  HB 2848 and SB 2966, filed at the State Congress of Tennessee on 1/26/04 amends Tennessee Code, relative to the Protective Parent Reform Act, which addresses custody of abused children.

Wisconsin:  Assembly Bill 279, filed at the State senate and assembly of Wisconsin on 4/18/03 creates a rebuttable presumption against awarding a parent joint or sole legal custody if the court finds that the parent has engaged in a pattern or serious incident of abuse, requiring a guardian ad litem and a mediator to have training related to domestic violence, and requiring a guardian ad litem to investigate and a mediator to inquire whether a party in an action affecting the family engaged in domestic violence.

Bits and pieces of state legislation aren’t enough. The current administration in Australia understands that federal law works best to help protect all children in that country. Our current administration seems to understand that too – it’s just a matter of putting pen to paper. 

The following is from the Australian Attorney-General’s Department:

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