When most Georgia parents face a custody battle, they are squared off against the other parent in a struggle over who will get the greater share of parenting time. That can be a difficult set of circumstances, but it is one that all parties will move through relatively unscathed. For some families, however, an environment of domestic violence makes child custody matters a far more difficult path to navigate.
United States Representative Pat Meehan would like to improve things for victims of domestic violence and their children. According to statistics compiled by the Center for Judicial Excellence, in the past decade more than 580 children were killed at the hands of a parent who was involved in a child custody case at the time. Many believe that a great deal of those deaths could have been prevented had better precautionary steps been taken.
In most cases, when one parent accuses the other of acts of domestic violence, or violence toward a child, those accusations are not taken very seriously by the court. Because there is often no hard and fast proof of such harm, abusive parents are given free access to their kids. In some cases, the abuser will harm his or her child to bring harm to the partner who left the union.
Rep. Meehan, in partnership with Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, introduced a resolution to ask for hearings on how family courts approach these most challenging of cases. The goal is for courts to address any issues of safety at the very forefront of the process, even before best interests of the child are considered. The resolution also asks for more clearly defined conditions for professionals assigned by the courts to evaluate the parties when domestic violence is at issue. Those changes could make child custody cases much safer for some Georgia residents.
Source: readingeagle.com, "U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan seeks greater protection for kids in custody cases", Beth Brelje, July 31, 2017