The National Family Violence Law Center
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.
How Coercive Control Laws are Working in States - NFVLC Information Collection
To help inform our work, we are currently collecting information on how coercive control cases are playing out in the states where coercive control laws have already been enacted, including Hawaii, California, Connecticut, and Washington. If you have such a case, please submit your case synopsis, including information on whether coercive control was found and credited by the court, and whether the coercive control law helped gain protections for yourself and/or your child - and if so how precisely (protection orders, child custody outcomes, etc). We also want to hear about cases where the coercive control law may have been ineffective or used against your client/you if you are a family violence survivor.
All information will remain confidential. Thank you for taking action to inform and improve policy!
The National Family Violence Law Center at GW (NFVLC) manages the nation's Legislative Clearinghouse on family court and related matters. The Clearinghouse is informed by research and is designed to provide a national resource to assist state and federal policy reform efforts aimed at better protecting children and their safe parent in family courts. The Clearinghouse serves Congressional and state policymakers in the growing number of states reeling from child abuse and homicides by an abusive parent and seeking to improve family courts’ adjudications to reduce harm to children.
Violence Against Women Act Now Incentivizes States to Protect Children Too!
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
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.
Domestic Violence in the 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.
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