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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 30, 2018 02:18 PM
From: Representative Mark Rozzi
To: All House members
Subject: Improving Custody and Visitation Adjudications In Cases of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that will ensure that the safety and health of the child is the first priority of custody and visitation adjudications in instances where family violence, including child sexual abuse, is alleged and found to be credible.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, reports that four-fifths (79.3%) of all child fatalities involve an abusive parent. According to their most recent report, there were over 4,000 child victims of abuse or neglect in Pennsylvania, which is an 18.2% increase from 2014. Of these children, 38.5% were physically abused and 50.4% were sexually abused, with youngest children under the age of 8 being the most vulnerable.

Research has shown that state family courts often fail to hear and properly evaluate reports of child abuse and domestic violence. This language will encourage the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts to develop and implement standards that will improve the ability of the court to recognize and respond to the impact of child abuse and domestic violence on all victims, specifically children. This will help our courts from inadvertently delivering children into the hands of an abusive parent.

Hundreds of innocent children in the U.S. have been murdered by an abusive parent in the midst of a divorce, separation, child custody, or child support proceedings. Kathleen Russell, Executive Director of the Center for Judicial Excellence, says, “Many of these were preventable murders - with safe parents repeatedly warning family courts about life threatening danger to their children - but they were ignored.”

This amendment is crucial to remedying adjudications that fail to prioritize child safety above all else.
Please join me in protecting the children of our Commonwealth by co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB2058