The National Family Violence Law Center

Children Reading Together Outside



The NFLVC serves as the preeminent home for national research and expert support for the growing movement to better protect children in contested custody cases. It provides pioneering quantitative and qualitative research, training and education, state and federal policy development, and selective litigation.

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Latest Activity


Joan Meier on HBO's "Allen v. Farrow" documentary


Professor Meier appears in "Allen v. Farrow," a new four-part HBO series documenting the accusation of sexual abuse against actor Woody Allen and the aftermath that followed. In episodes 3 and 4, Professor Meier sheds light on the strategies used by abusers, the "alienation" label often used to deny women's and children's abuse claims, and what is going on in family courts today. Her research, based at GW's National Family Violence Law Center, also provides much of the background for the film.

Watch "Allen v. Farrow" on HBO


What We Do


Research, Scholarship, and Public Education

The center’s first priority is to provide evidence-based analysis of family courts’ responses to family violence and using data-based arguments to inform public opinion and to advance legal reforms.


Legislative Clearinghouse

Building on the unanimous adoption by the U.S. House of Representatives of the 2018 H.Con.Res.72 on Child Safety in the Family Courts, the center is establishing a national clearinghouse to support advocates at the state level to implement reforms that strengthen state laws to protect children in custody litigation. This clearinghouse will help centralize efforts, develop best-practice templates for custody legislation, and provide research to support policy changes. 


Legal Advocacy

The center participates in federal appeals involving the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of international child abduction, producing amicus briefs in partnership with pro bono lawyers from a selective network of law firms. The center also provides amicus support in state court appeals. The center also collaborates both with other domestic violence and child maltreatment nonprofits and experts as co-amici.

Learn More about What We Do


NFVLC's mission is to expand public and professional awareness of the need - and to craft the tools necessary - for better protection of at-risk children in family court. The Center brings together domestic violence, child maltreatment, and other child-focused professions to more powerfully inform legal policy and judicial decision-making about children exposed to family violence. The Center is the first organization in the nation to build an empirical foundation for these much-needed system reforms. NFVLC furthers its mission by procuring and deploying empirical research, articulating and advancing policy proposals, and engaging in selective litigation as amicus curiae. The NFVLC also mobilizes and supports local and national advocates and grassroots efforts on behalf of victims, and amplifies the public and professional discourse through media outreach and communications.


In the News

"When Protecting Your Children Is a Crime"

February 10, 2020

Joan S. Meier is quoted by Dame Magazine about her research on how courts discount the risk to children in domestic violence cases.

"The New Debate: Does the Right To Be a Parent Outweigh the Right Not To Be a Parent?"

February 06, 2020

Naomi R. Cahn is quoted by Deseret News on how there is no legal consensus about how reproductive technology cases should be decided.

"Why Women Lose Custody"

January 26, 2020

Naomi R. Cahn writes for Forbes on Joan S. Meier's new study on gender bias in custody cases.

"Dulos Murder Case Used to Push Domestic Violence Law"

January 11, 2020

Joan S. Meier's research on gender bias in family custody cases was mentioned by Connecticut Senator Alex Bergstein on HLN.

Director and Affiliated Faculty

Joan S. Meier

Joan S. Meier

Center Director; Professor of Clinical Law, GW Law


Laurie S. Kohn

Laurie S. Kohn

Jacob Burns Foundation Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs; Director of the Family Justice Litigation Clinic, GW Law

Laurie Kohn directs the Family Justice Litigation Clinic, which provides representation to survivors of domestic violence in D.C. Superior Court. She also directs the Community Legal Clinics as a whole. Professor Kohn’s research focuses on domestic violence, civil protection orders, fatherhood, and related issues.

Catherine J. Ross

Catherine J. Ross

Fred C. Stevenson Research Professor, GW Law

Catherine Ross teaches Child, Family & State, Family Law, and Constitutional Law. Her research focuses on constitutional, legal, and policy issues concerning families and children.


Naomi Cahn

Naomi Cahn

Professor Cahn is an expert in family law, trusts and estates, feminist jurisprudence, reproductive technology, and aging and the law. She writes on changing families, trusts and estates, and the socio-politics of families and gender; and has a background in domestic violence work, advocacy, and scholarship.

Mary Ellsberg

Mary Ellsberg

Professor in Global Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health; Executive Director, Global Women’s Institute, GW

Mary Ellsberg founded and directs the Global Women’s Institute, and has decades of globally-recognized expertise in research on international women’s health and gender issues. 

Nicole Lang

Nicole Lang, MD

Assistant Professor of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, GW

Professor Nicole Lang, MD teaches and supervises GW students on numerous pediatric topics including the social determinants of health, and how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affect both children and families. 

Support the National Family Violence Law Center

Your support will help ensure that the National Family Violence Law Center advances the critical work being done at GW to improve the nation’s response to family violence. Grants and individual donations are tax-deductible, made through the university, and assigned to the center’s budget.

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