Heymann & Fletcher

Representatives ask for improved focus on safety of children

Living with an abusive partner is among the most challenging experiences that many New Jersey residents will ever face. For those who have children, the situation is even more stressful. Many parents stay with an abusive partner out of fear of what might happen to their kids if they left. According to some statistics, that fear for the safety of children is well-founded.

According to statistics from the Center for Judicial Excellence, nearly 600 children have been killed by a parent over the past decade while a child custody case was underway. It is believed that many of those deaths might have been prevented if the courts had allowed greater protections. Even more distressing is the fact that many domestic violence victims beg the courts to protect their children, only to have those pleas fall onto deaf ears.

United States Representative Pat Meehan has teamed up with Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney to present a resolution asking for a closer examination of how courts handle these types of child custody cases. Specifically, the resolution aims to have family courts address safety concerns before any other issue, including the rights of the parents and the best interests of the children. In addition, courts are asked to put strict guidelines in place regarding the professionals used to evaluate families and guide the court to a decision in contested custody cases.

Should these measures become standard practice, children and victims of domestic violence might have an easier time moving through a child custody case and into a patterns of visitation. Few can argue that the safety of children should take a backseat to any other considerations. That belief may help bring about substantial change regarding how contentious cases are handled, in New Jersey and elsewhere.

Source: readingeagle.com, "U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan seeks greater protection for kids in custody cases", Beth Brelje, July 31, 2017

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