Gov. Hochul Signs Bill Aiming to Protect Children from Abusive Parents
Legislation designed to provide extra levels of protection for the children of abusive parents is now the law in the State of New York. Previously, Family Courts and child custody evaluators leaned heavily toward custody and visitation arrangements that allowed parents access to their sons and daughters, even if a risk of violence existed. Sadly, it was a tragic event on Long Island that led a bereaved mother to lead the campaign for change.
Governor Kathy Hochul signed what is known as “Kyra’s Law” in December, 2022. That name for the legislation honors Jacqueline Franchetti’s daughter, who was killed by her father, Roy Rumsey, during court-ordered visitation at age two. Franchetti and Rumsey had broken up due to his abusive behavior toward her. However, when Kyra’s custody was being adjudicated, the court refused Franchetti’s request for supervised visitation while the case was pending. That decision resulted in the tragedy where Rumsey killed Kyra and then himself.
The new law includes several provisions to prevent similar situations in the future, such as:
- In cases where a parent is accused of domestic violence, a pre-trial evidentiary hearing must be conducted regarding the effect of a custody or visitation decision on the child’s safety.
- Courts no longer can dismiss allegations of abuse based on the accused parent’s claim that the allegations stem from improper parental alienation. Previously, judges would frequently reject reports of physical and emotional harm out of a concern that the allegation was falsified as a litigation tactic.
- Judges and court officials involved in Family Court cases are now required to participate in training on domestic violence and child abuse issues.
- When one parent has committed abuse against a family member, the other parent receives sole custody of the child and the abusive parent must pay attorneys’ fees and court costs.
Though nothing can prevent every instance of parental abuse, supporters of the law believe that it goes a long way toward shifting the focus in child custody decisions to the young person’s well-being rather than a parent’s grievances with their former partner.
Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. is the Long Island leader in divorce and child custody cases, including serious matters where abuse is alleged. Regardless of your particular circumstances, we are here to protect you and your children. Please call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online for a consultation.