What is “An Act Relative To Child-Centered Family Law”? 

A courtroom with wooden walls and green curtains

The custody law we have today is the best it can be for the children. The happiness and wellbeing of children is the most important factor in custody cases. Judges must put more emphasis on the children's happiness and well-being than their parents' rights.

Right now, some people are trying to change the law. They have filed a bill called “An Act Relative To Child-Centered Family Law.”

The bill is more about parents' rights than children's happiness and well-being. Even though the bill is more about parents, these people are calling the changes "child-centered."

Many domestic violence survivors say judges are biased against survivors, too tolerant of abusive parents, and do not understand how bad domestic violence is for all survivors, including their children. This bill is too tolerant of abusive parents and does not get how bad domestic violence is for children.

If you think the happiness and well-being of children is the most important factor in custody cases, tell your lawmakers, “Keep the law we have now. Do not change it!’


What is at Stake?

A young girl sits on a stone wall covering her face with her hands
  •  is bad for children, not child-centered

  • makes judges pay more attention to parents’ relationships than the happiness and well-being of their children

  • encourages abusive parents to use the courts to harass you with false, baseless, or petty accusations.

  • makes it harder for decent parents to advocate for themselves in court.

 


What does the Act do?

A young child sits in a classroom with his head in his hands
  • Replaces a good law just because some people claim the Probate and Family Court has not treated them fairly.
  • Encourages abusive parents to use the courts to shift the focus away from the happiness and welfare of the children.
  • Underestimates the harm domestic violence causes. Now the judge has to decide if the other parent has repeatedly abused you or has abused you badly. If the judge decides that the other parent has abused you repeatedly or badly, then the judge can only give custody to the other parent for a very good reason. The new bill does not say that the judge must have a reason.
  • Gives abusive parents more ways to reduce your parenting time.  
  • Encourages abusive parents to use the court to take away your parenting time by claiming you interfered with their parenting time. If the bill passes you would have to prove that you were protecting your child.
  • Encourages abusive parents to use the court punish you for not cooperating with them.
  • Encourages abusive parents to use the courts to take away your parenting time by claiming that you manipulate or pressure your children to take your side.
  • Requires you to file a detailed parenting plan every time you go to court.
  • Encourages abusive parents to have the court hold you in contempt by claiming you violated the parenting plan.
  • Orders children to live specific fractions of their time with each parent. This is a random way of looking at things that does not focus on the happiness and well-being of your child.
  • Stresses your willingness to support a positive relationship between your child and the other parent, even if it is harmful.
  • Stresses your willingness to support frequent contact between your child and the other parent, even if it is harmful.

What can you do?

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Tell legislators, "Do NOT change the Law. Stop this bill, and keep judges focused on the happiness and well-being of the child."

Write to the House & Senate Chairs of the Judiciary Committee, and tell them:

  1. not to change the current “happiness and well-being of the children” law

  2. this bill is parent-centered, not child-centered

  3. not to recommend this bill to the full Legislature

Write to your Senator & Representative, and tell them:

  1. not to change the current “happiness and well-being of the children” law
  2. this bill is parent-centered, not child-centered
  3. to oppose this misnamed bill
  4. to tell the Judiciary Committee not to recommend this bill to the full Legislature