To comply with the federal "Keeping Children Safe From Family Violence Act" (federal act), the act requires courts that hear parental allocation proceedings involving domestic violence or child abuse, including child sexual abuse, to consider the admission of expert testimony and evidence if the expert demonstrates expertise and experience working with victims of domestic violence or child abuse. Courts are also required to consider evidence of past sexual or physical abuse committed by the accused party, any restraining orders against the accused party, arrests or convictions of the accused party, and any other documentation of abuse, such as letters to landlords to break leases or medical records.
The act prohibits a court from removing a child from or restricting contact between a child and a protective party who is competent, protective, not physically or sexually abusive, and with whom the child is bonded or attached solely in order to improve a deficient relationship with the accused party.
The act provides that a court shall not order reunification treatment (treatment) that is predicated on cutting off the relationship between a child and a protective party with whom the child is bonded and attached. If a court orders treatment, the treatment must be generally accepted and there must be scientifically valid proof of the safety, effectiveness, and therapeutic value of the treatment.
The act directs the task force created in House Bill 23-1108 to study victim and survivor awareness and responsiveness training requirements to make recommendations for any judge or magistrate who presides over parental responsibility proceedings.
The act requires child and family investigators, parental responsibilities evaluators, and legal representatives of children who do not contract with the office of the child's representative (office) to complete initial and ongoing training on domestic violence and child abuse. A trainer with experience assisting survivors of domestic violence or child abuse is required to conduct the training.
The act requires the judicial branch to apply to the federal department of justice's office of the attorney general for a grant increase to comply with the federal act.
APPROVED by Governor May 25, 2023
EFFECTIVE May 25, 2023
NOTE: Certain sections of the act are contingent on whether or not House Bill 23-1108 becomes law. House Bill 23-1108 took effect May 25, 2023.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)