SB 654 Signed into CA Law as Governor Newsom Takes Final Action of 2021 Legislative Session

Governor Gavin Newsom took action on the final bills of the 2020-21 legislative session, which included the signing of Senate Bill 654–a victory for child safety in court!

Existing law requires the court to consider, and give due weight to, the wishes of the child in making an order granting or modifying custody or visitation if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation.

This bill would prohibit the court from permitting a child addressing the court regarding custody or visitation to do so in the presence of the parties unless the court determines that doing so is in the best interests of the child and states its reasons for that finding on the record. The bill would require the court to provide an alternative to having the child address the court in the presence of the parties in order to obtain input directly from the child. The bill would also require, if a child informs the minor’s counsel, an evaluator, an investigator, or a child custody recommending counselor that the child has changed their choice with respect to addressing the court, the minor’s counsel, evaluator, investigator, or child custody recommending counselor indicate to the judge, the parties or their attorneys, and other professionals serving on the case that the child has changed their preference. By imposing additional duties on local officials, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would require the Judicial Council, no later than January 1, 2023, to develop or amend rules as necessary to implement these provisions.

Existing law requires, when an allegation about a parent relating to a history of abuse or substance abuse by the parent has been brought to the attention of the court in the current proceeding, the court to state its reasons in writing or on the record if the court makes an order for sole or joint custody to that parent.

This bill would also require the court in those circumstances to state its reasons in writing or on the record if the court makes an order for unsupervised visitations to that parent.

Thanks to the incredible leadership of Senator Dave Min and co-authors Senators Borgeas and Rubio. Thank you to everyone who weighed in on this one – Angelina Jolie, Dylan Farrow, and child-protecting Californians from up and down the state – for writing letters and/or emails! Special shoutout to the supporting orgs who helped amplify the importance of this legislation: Legislative Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse, California Protective Parents Association, California Women’s Law Center, One Mom’s Battle, and Custody Peace!

Read more here.


CJE Research Partner Awarded Center for Institutional Courage Grant for “The Deadly Consequences of DARVO (Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender) Tactics in Family Court”

The Center for Judicial Excellence is thrilled to announce that our U.S. Divorce Child Homicide research partner, Elizabeth Tomsich, Ph.D. from the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, was recently awarded a grant for our collaborative project “The Deadly Consequences of DARVO (Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender) Tactics in Family Court.”

Center for Institutional Courage’s inaugural research grant program focuses on institutional courage and institutional betrayal, with emphasis on unstudied institutions and marginalized populations.

The Deadly Consequences of DARVO (Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender) Tactics in Family Court study seeks to identify themes in California family court custodial/visitation practices that resulted in institutional failure by the state to protect the best interests and safety of a child in the context of custody litigation. The study will review family court custodial cases in California between 2008-2021 where a child was killed by a parent or caretaker with a history of family or intimate partner violence (IPV) who was permitted contact with the child over the objection of a non-abusive, protective parent. In addition, we will conduct interviews with surviving protective parents and family members.


New York Teen Advocates On Behalf Of Late Toddler: Preventing Child Abuse in Custody Cases

14-year-old Shayna Blumenfeld of Port Washington, from home, appeared virtually in front of New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Forensic Custody Evaluators, expressing the importance of making child safety the top priority in custody cases.

Shayna is a youth ambassador for Kyra’s Champions, an organization that works to pass laws to protect children in child custody cases that could protect children like Kyra Franchetti, a 2-year-old from Manhasset who died in a tragic murder-suicide by her father in 2016.

Read more here.




DATELINE: LAS VEGAS, NEV., (Sept. 18, 2021).  Once upon a time, divorce laws required parties to prove “fault.”  Couples had to prove their spouses committed infidelities so horrific—that the court should dissolve the marriage.


In 1931, hoping to attract residents, Nevada enacted new divorce laws.  Nevada changed its residency requirements to six weeks and adopted a “no-fault” divorce.  Couples wishing to divorce could get un-hitched in just six weeks!—and they didn’t have to prove who cheated on whom!


With the advent of new divorce laws, divorce mills sprung up throughout Nevada.  Reno became the Divorce Capital of America.  Nevada ranchers cashed in on the divorce gold rush—they offered accommodations at “divorce ranches” where folks would stay for six weeks to establish residency.  In 1951, Rita Hayworth took up residency in Tahoe before filing for divorce.


“No-fault” divorce demonstrated the popular belief that unhappy spouses should be able to quickly end a soured marriage—and move on with their lives.  In 1969, California followed Nevada.  Then-Governor Reagan signed the Family Law Act, which created “no-fault” divorce for California couples with “irreconcilable differences.”


Sadly, Nevada has reverted back to a “fault” based system.  Nowadays, attorneys fight to show the ex is “at fault,” and if successful, their clients are eligible to be the “prevailing party,” which triggers an attorney’s fees award.


But there are no winners or losers in family court; after all, when parties go to family court, they seek no redress for wrongdoings.  Rather, they seek only to divide marital assets and/or possession time of children.  And, because nobody wins in family court, the notion of “prevailing party” makes no sense.


Where cunning attorneys can show the ex is “at-fault,” the attorneys’ clients are adjudged the “prevailing party”—which results in attorney’s fees.  This is the precise point where the corruption pathogen takes hold and begins to fester.  Next thing you know, attorneys from the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, (“LACSN”), pretend to be “pro bono”—with an underlying expectation they’re gonna get paid—but only if they show the other party is “at-fault!”


Enter the notorious “faux Bono” lawyers—pretending to be do-gooders, supposedly donating time to charity cases—when in fact—they are money-grubbing, contingency fee lawyers—willing to wager they can show the ex is “at-fault”—and totally confident that crooked-ass judges will ensure the ex is “at-fault.”  (Get it?)


Take, for example, Vince Ochoa.  Once a LACSN team member, Ochoa is now a LACSN lackey.  Nowadays, Ochoa’s job is to ensure that LACSN attorneys get paid!—by hook or by crook!  Ochoa knows the scam.  Ochoa understands that attorneys cannot donate campaign funds to the bench unless they have disposable income; and so, Ochoa ensures the LACSN attorneys get paid!


Do LACSN lawyers ever represent BOTH spouses in family court?  No, of course, not!  Why?—because one LACSN lawyer would have to lose!—and go home empty-handed!  And no gold-digging LACSN lawyer will take a “pro bono” gig if there’s a possibility they might have to work for free!


If your ex is represented by LACSN, your crooked-ass judge will find YOU “at fault,” and your ex will be the “prevailing party”—because the LACSN lawyer must get paid.  Let’s say your ex LIES in open court and falsely accuses YOU of behaving badly.  Bamm!  The crooked-ass judge will believe your ex—guaranteed!  Family courts reward perjury.  Judges embrace the lies—because lies provide the necessary pretext to declare YOU “at fault.”  This means your ex is the “prevailing party,” and their LACSN attorney gets a handsome attorney’s fees award.


“Pro bono” is a Latin term meaning “for good” or “for charity.”  In contrast, “pro pecunia” is the Latin term meaning “for money.”  The “faux Bono” lawyer is NOT in the game for charitable reasons.  Getting paid is the sole objective.  The “faux Bono” lawyer is basically a contingency fee lawyer—a bus bench lawyer—like Saul Goodman—but with lower ethical standards.


Greedy attorneys and crooked-ass judges have effectively re-transformed Nevada law—from “no-fault”—back to “fault-based” divorce.  Just think—only sixteen (16) civil judges for the entire civil docket, but twenty-six (26) for family court.  Why?—because they need TEN extra judges to manage the bustling child kidnapping industry—which generates gazillions of dollars—and causes widespread misery more dismal, more costly, and more destructive than any blight, pestilence, or plague imaginable.  Sit down, Covid—the family court is the real scourge!


Back in the day, enlightened Nevada lawmakers had a vision—to un-hitch couples after only six weeks’ residency.  But those days are gone forever.  Today, divorce is big business.  Nobody gets out in six weeks.  If your kid is five, and your spouse files for divorce, the custody battle will last 13 years—until the kid turns 18—guaranteed.


Regular civil courts have fast-track procedures—to quickly dispo cases, but not so family court.  It’s a criminal cabal—where lawless and psychopathic judges choke the life out of couples, stranding them in family court quicksand—opening their veins and bleeding them dry—draining the family’s assets and stealing the children’s futures.


If you can’t afford a lawyer, and if your ex has a really good job, LACSN will represent YOU in family court—for FREE!  On the other hand, if you can’t afford a lawyer—and your ex is on disability or welfare, then forget it—LACSN won’t touch your case with a 39-and-a-half-foot-pole.  LACSN discriminates against the poor, (i.e., “intra-class” discrimination).  LACSN treats poor people differently from one another—based only on whether the ex has a paycheck that LACSN can garnish.


Where lawyers have the expectation of a payday—and they call themselves “pro bono,”—it’s inherently deceitful—a deceptive trade practice, [see NRS 598].  The venerable term “pro bono” must be reserved for attorneys with no expectation of pecuniary gain.  The moniker ”pro bono” must be unavailable to money-grubbing shysters.


We call for mandatory 50-50 custody legislation in Nevada!—and not just a rebuttable presumption of joint custody—but full, equal, and undivided joint custody—as Equal Protection demands.


It’s been said that equal parenting is integral for a child’s well-being.  If this is true, then the current system detriments children.  The system generates the most revenue by making parenting “unequal.”  Nevada is at a crossroads; we must decide—what’s more important?—the future of our children?—or Jennifer Abrams’ ability to buy another Porsche?


VETERAN in POLITICS INT’L (“Where Change Happens”)



He Beat Her Repeatedly. Family Court Tried to Give Him Joint Custody of Their Children.

Jennifer Moston was about seven months pregnant when, she said, her husband grabbed her by the arms, picked her up and threw her against the staircase. Each time she tried to get up, he pushed her down again. Such abusive episodes continued for several years, she said, until 2016, when he allegedly tried to strangle her. She went to the police and filed for divorce.

It seemed obvious to Jennifer that her husband, Ryan, shouldn’t get custody of their 3-year-old son, as Ryan now faced felony charges of domestic violence. How could someone with a violent history be trusted with a child? How could she stay out of harm’s way if she was interacting with him for drop-offs?

Jennifer assumed that the family court in her Wisconsin county would make her safety and that of her son a priority, and that the system would help her cut off contact with Ryan.

But it didn’t.

Wisconsin is considered a “leader” in the movement to give fathers equal rights as parents, with its percentage of shared custody cases among the highest in the nation. But a ProPublica investigation has found that the state’s family court system has been unable to adjust to protect domestic abuse survivors. ProPublica reporter Megan O’Matz explores how the complexities of domestic violence are often overlooked in the Wisconsin court system. Advocates and experts say the lack of reforms puts mothers and children at risk, often leaving women facing legal barriers and forced to co-parent with their abusers.

Read more here.


Senator Min’s Child Safety Bill Clears the CA Legislature

Senate Bill (SB) 654, backed by Angelina Jolie and Dylan Farrow, would require a judge to consider a parent’s history of domestic violence and substance abuse before allowing unsupervised visits with children.

SACRAMENTO, CA — Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) announced today his bill to create and
extend protections for children in family court advanced from the State Legislature and will head
to Governor Newsom’s desk for his signature. SB 654 passed the Senate Floor with unanimous

SB 654 would require judges to make findings on the record when entering an order for
unsupervised visitation with a parent who has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse.
This bill would also ensure children who wish to testify in contested custody battles do not have
to do so in the presence of the parties seeking custody, unless it is deemed necessary by a judge.

“I am grateful to my colleagues for their overwhelming support of SB 654, which will save lives,” Min said. “Child safety must be our number one priority in the courts, and we must ensure that we don’t put children in situations of ongoing danger of domestic violence or substance abuse. I am proud that this measure brings us one step closer to guaranteeing our laws better protect children and prioritize their health, safety, and welfare.”

This bill has enjoyed prominent and widespread bipartisan support. It is sponsored by the
Legislative Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse. According to Melissa Knight-Fine, Director of this
organization, “SB 654 promotes risk assessment and consideration of information from law
enforcement and other child protection agencies, proven tools to help prevent abuse. The bill will protect children in high-risk cases where parents who have been on supervised visitation due to violence now are asking for unsupervised visits.”

SB 654 has also received notable support from actor and internationally renowned children’s rights advocate Angelina Jolie. In her letter of support, Jolie wrote, “Having courts make findings on the record will ensure that histories of domestic violence or substance abuse are addressed and treated, and such findings will protect children from unsupervised visitation when unsupervised parenting is unsafe. The modest measures in SB 654 are also expected to prevent the need for additional hearings due to unsafe visitation.”  Dylan Farrow, a prominent advocate for survivors of sexual abuse also encouraged public support for “this crucial legislation.”


Senator Dave Min – California Children Deserve to be Safe from Violence and Abuse. Here’s How We are Making it Happen.

This important Op Ed from California Senator Dave Min highlights his important bill SB 654 on child safety in family court. SB 654 passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and it will be taken up on the California Assembly floor next.

“An estimated one in every 19 children in California is abused, and the risk is even higher for children in families who separate and divorce. Every year, 58,500 children — including 6,000 here in California — are ordered into unsupervised visitation with abusive parents. More often than not, this leads to continued child abuse, with the long-lasting physical and mental harm that results. And far too often, we end up with tragically fatal outcomes, such as the case with the two Sacramento girls. According to the Center for Judicial Excellence, since 2008, 72 California kids were murdered during custody or visitation with an abusive parent. In 22 of these cases, the family court had been presented with evidence of some form of abuse.”

Read more here.


‘Women Are Routinely Discredited’: How Courts Fail Mothers and Children Who Have Survived Abuse

This report from The Fuller Project, in partnership with the Guardian, details the routine family court failure to believe and protect mothers and children who have survived abuse and how abusive partners using the courts to control and harass their current and former partners.

“I’m losing everything,” says Marissa, who learned last September, in the middle of an already contentious custody battle, that her son Zachary had told his counselor that Marissa’s former partner Carter had “touched his private parts” in bed. Zachary would disclose more incidents of abuse in the months that followed, including rape. Carter is suing for custody of his biological son with Marissa, Eli, as well as Zachary, whose own biological father is out of the picture. Marissa estimates that she’s spent $150,000 on her defense, while attending medical school and supporting two children.

Read more here.


Federal Lawsuit Claims NY Judge Anthony McGinty Favors Abusive Men in Custody Cases

An upstate New York domestic violence survivor, author, and family child advocate Francesca Amato said Ulster County Family Court Judge Anthony McGinty violated her rights by awarding custody of her teen son to her abusive ex — and she claims other female litigants are facing similar fates, an explosive federal lawsuit alleges.

Judge McGinty placed her 13-year-old son with a father, who has a 15-page criminal background and now lives in a “one bedroom cottage with 8 people,” according to a federal lawsuit recently filed in the Northern District of New York.

Read more here.


7-Year-Old Julissia Batties Killed Inside Mom’s Bronx Apartment, Despite History of Abuse Detailed in Court Papers

The long and ultimately fatal custody battle lost by a devastated Bronx grandmother forced to return a 7-year-old girl to her mother and the apartment where the child was fatally beaten is detailed in court documents.

Little Julissia Batties, removed from the custody of doting grandmother Yolanda Davis in April 2020, was punched eight times early Tuesday morning by a teenage half-brother, sources said. He too was once removed from the custody of their mother Navasia Jones, in February 2013, but was back living with her four years later, according to the court papers.

Read more here.