Bill would freeze permanent custody, visitation decisions until abuse charges are resolved

Domestic violence is on an unprecedented rise during the COVID-19 crisis, and now new legislation is being introduced to help keep victims and children safe.

News 12 Staff

May 7, 2020, 9:20 PM

Updated 1,499 days ago

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Domestic violence is on an unprecedented rise during the COVID-19 crisis, and now new legislation is being introduced to help keep victims and children safe.
When it comes to domestic violence and family court, state Sen. James Skoufis says there are egregious examples of victims being taken advantage of and children being used as collateral against the victim.
Skoufis says criminal allegations aren't always considered when it comes to custody.
"The only thing a victim should have to worry about…is getting that abuser away from them and holding them accountable for their crimes," he says.
In an effort to help survivors, Skoufis is now proposing a new domestic violence law to freeze permanent decisions on custody and visitation until any criminal charges against an alleged abuser are resolved.
"Whatever we can do to make this system better for victims we need to do, and we need to do it faster because of the circumstances," he says.
According to the state, domestic violence rose by 40% last month. Advocates say helping victims needs to be a multifaceted approach.
"Fundamentally, the concern has always been there's a lack of training for judges," says KellyAnn Kostyal-Larrier, of Fearless! "It needs to be ongoing because children's lives are depending on it as well as victims' lives."
If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the New York State Domestic Violence Helpline at 844-997-2121.
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