CA Senate Passes Rubio “Right to Pause” Family Court Bill, Increasing Protections for Children

In a bipartisan and unanimous vote, the California Senate passed a bill today by Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) that will protect victims and children by allowing for a pause in visitation if there are recent signs of escalating violent behavior by an abusive parent.

Senate Bill 1265, “The Right to Pause Act: Child Custody Protection,” will amend the Family Code. It will clarify that in specific high-risk escalating violence circumstances, visitation by children, who are ordered to have in-person contact with a parent who has a restraining order in place, may be temporarily halted until there is a hearing set by the court.

“In every child court proceeding and decision, including visitation, the safety of a child must come first,” said Senator Rubio. “SB 1265 puts the focus on the protection of children when violence is escalating and parents have no option other than allowing visitation even though they fear a child may be killed. Too often, when domestic violence abuse and child custody cases intersect, an abusive parent uses their children as weapons to hurt a partner or ex-partner, and in the most dangerous circumstances, this has resulted in the murder of thousands of innocent children.”

Children continue to be victims of domestic violence that ultimately lead to murder by an abusive parent. In February 2022, in Sacramento County, a father, who had an active domestic violence restraining order against him, murdered his three little girls during a court-ordered supervised visit. The father had been arrested one week prior and had shown repeated escalating, violent behavior. Unfortunately, visitation continued to be granted. According to the Center for Judicial Excellence, since 2008, there have been 832 child homicides reported involving families that were divorcing. In some cases, the family courts received evidence of a history of abuse but missed opportunities to prevent child deaths.

Senator Rubio has been a longtime champion of domestic violence policies and is an internationally recognized advocate for victims. In her first year in the California Senate, she partnered with actresses and advocates Evan Rachel Wood and Esmé Bianco to pass The Phoenix Act, which allows survivors more time to seek justice and worked with organizations to ensure proper funding for services.

In 2020, she passed groundbreaking legislation related to coercive control, which required courts to allow evidence of psychological and manipulative abuse as part of legal proceedings. She also passed legislation that allows victims to electronically petition for a restraining order and testify remotely. This year, the Senator continues to fight for victims, introducing legislation extending protections for revenge porn, and fighting for more funding for family court to put child safety first.

Senator Susan Rubio represents Senate District 22. For more information, visit sd22.senate.ca.gov/

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