State Lawmakers Take Up Invoice That Would Change How Courts Determine Youngster Custody Battles – CBS Denver
DENVER (CBS4) – Domestic violence survivors say their children are at risk from courts that fail to understand the effects abuse can have on children. They are fighting for a bill that would change the way custody battles are resolved.
They say courts grant joint custody in many cases even when there is evidence of abuse.
Rebecca Zimmerman says her case is evidence of that.
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“I’m scared every time I say something.”
For eight years she was afraid of her ex-husband. He was physically and emotionally abusive in their custody battle, according to the judge. The judge questioned her ex-husband’s verdict and psychological well-being, ordered him to seek advice on depression and anger management, and then gave him joint custody of the couple’s two little girls.
“I don’t see why anyone would say this person is violent and angry and a good father too,” Zimmerman said.
MP Meg Froelich believes this is partly due to a lack of training.
“With the training we want to be clear about what the best science is.”
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According to Froelich, a child’s risk of abuse increases after divorce with domestic violence, even if the child was not previously abused. She says the court evaluators and investigators that judges rely on to make custody decisions have no training in the effects of domestic violence on children.
She introduced a bill that requires ongoing training and makes abuse the first consideration when granting custody.
“The 50:50 standard of common parenting needs to be scrutinized when abuse claims are made.”
Those who oppose the bill argue that just because someone is a bad spouse doesn’t make that person a bad parent. They insist that children need both parents and that joint custody is best for the children.
Zimmerman, whose husband has been convicted of harassment and stalking since their divorce, says the perpetrators will not stop until they are held accountable.
“A trained court staff protects children like my children. I don’t want this to happen to other survivors and other children. “
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According to Froelich, 90% of judges follow the advice of a court reviewer or investigator, which is why they think it is so important that they have adequate training. Your draft law was passed unanimously by the first committee.