Partner Daniel A. Rozansky, Associate AnnaMarie A. Van Hoesen and Law Clerk Daixi Xu submitted an amicus brief in concert with the (FVAP) on behalf of FVAP and 10 other California-based nonprofit organizations that work with domestic violence survivors and their children. Filed in the California Court of Appeal for the Second District, the amicus brief supports the appellant, a victim of domestic violence, in appealing an order granting joint custody of her two young daughters to her abusive partner. Although California Family Code Section 3044 creates a rebuttable presumption against awarding custody to domestic abusers, trial courts such as this one have repeatedly failed to apply that presumption or properly consider the factors required to rebut it. As set forth in the brief, joint custody arrangements provide the opportunity for batterers to further abuse their former partners and their children. Studies have found that victims of domestic violence face serious safety risks in such custody arrangements and that children exposed to domestic violence are 74 percent more likely to commit crimes against other people, 50 percent more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and much more likely to abuse their own partners. Accordingly, the brief urges the court of appeal to provide much needed guidance so that trial courts will understand and effectuate the legislative intent to protect children from the known harms associated with granting custody to domestic abusers.
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