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.

Sign up for the NFVLC Mailing List




Temporary Job Opening - Research Child Representation Practices in States

If you are interested in the position, please send your bio and resume to [email protected].


View Job Description

Latest Activity

Violence Against Women Act Now Incentivizes States to Protect Children Too!


National Family Violence Law Center Staff with President Biden at the White House


The Violence Against Women Act 2022 (VAWA), including the Keeping Children Safe From Family Violence Act or “Kayden’s Law”, was reauthorized and signed into law in March 2022 by President Biden.

NFVLC was honored to be invited to the White House event and attend with Kayden’s mom, Kathy Sherlock, to celebrate this momentous occasion. Joan and Danielle are proud to have drafted this VAWA provision together with Pennsylvania Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and then advanced it together with Kayden’s family, colleagues at RAINN, CJE, Pillsbury LLP, and of course many advocates, including Angelina Jolie.

Kayden’s mom, who has worked closely with us on reforms since her daughter’s murder five years ago, said in an interview following the federal law being enacted: “We are finally being heard. Congress is saying that this is a problem and we need to do something about it by validating what we’ve been saying and screaming for years…we’ve been heard. And we’re not going to stop. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Indeed, there is now much work ahead in the states at NFVLC as we provide the technical assistance to state lawmakers across the country who seek to adopt the VAWA provisions in the specific ways set forth in the new federal law; those states will become eligible for the federal dollars made available by enactment. Please send your interested state lawmakers our way and if you would like to advocate for adoption in your state there are many ways to be involved, including through the advocacy community at the National Safe Parents Organization.

Joan Meier Is Installed in Newly Endowed Professorship Supporting Family Violence Survivors


Photo from left: GW Law Dean Matthew, Professor Meier, President Wrighton and Provost Bracey.

From left: GW Law Dean Matthew, Professor Meier, President Wrighton and Provost Bracey.

The George Washington University installed GW Law Professor Joan S. Meier as the inaugural holder of the National Family Violence Law Center Professorship. Meier is a professor of clinical law and the director of the National Family Violence Law Center at GW Law. For more than three decades, she has been a powerful advocate for victims of family violence. She founded the nonprofit Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project in 2003 to provide pro bono advocacy for survivors of domestic violence, challenge unjust trial outcomes, train lawyers, judges and others in best practices and spearhead litigation.

Read More About Professor Meier's Installation

Domestic Violence in the Supreme Court


Front steps of the DC Supreme Court


In March, the Center was riveted by a promising Supreme Court argument in a case concerning the Hague Abduction Convention and domestic violence. The Center co-signed and helped author an amicus brief in the case and also helped prepare the attorney for the mother. A short discussion of the case is on SCOTUSblog.

Child-centered and non-discriminatory custody cases: Against the pseudo theory of ‘parental alienation’



The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Ms. Reem Alsalem, convened a panel on the use of the pseudo theory of parental alienation in child custody cases on March 17, 2022, as a sidelight to the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. The panel emphasized how discriminatory biases against women fail to protect children from abusive fathers, and expose both women and their children to further violence. Panelists, including NFVLC Director Joan S. Meier, argued for coordinated and systematic work to promote a gender-sensitive approach to custody proceedings, centered on the best interest of the child.



About the Center

About Our Work

How It Happens

Why Our Work Matters

Affiliated Faculty & Advisory Board


What We Do

Research, Scholarship, & Education

Legislative Clearinghouse

Legal Advocacy


Upcoming Events

In the News

"Upstate Judge Favored Abusive Men Over Battered Women in Custody Cases, Lawsuit Claims"

Joan S. Meier is quoted in the New York Post about how mothers who accuse their spouses of abuse in family court often lose custody of their children.

"‘Women Are Routinely Discredited’: How Courts Fail Mothers and Children Who Have Survived Abuse"

Joan Meier is quoted in The Guardian about how mothers accusing their partners of abuse sometimes end up losing custody of their children.

"Parental Alienation As A Defense To Allegations Of Domestic Violence And Allegations Of Child Sexual Abuse"

Joan S. Meier is cited in Forbes for her work on how parental alienation is often claimed in custody cases when there are allegations of abuse.

From Twitter


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.

Support Our Work


Contact Us



Parent holding a child's hand