Domestic violence survivors seeking justice and safety in New York State’s family and supreme courts often encounter a deeply flawed, poorly functioning system that exposes them and their children to further harm. On October 13 and 14, 2022, a coalition of leading nonprofit agencies that serve and advocate for survivors convened a conference in New York City to address these systemic inequities and identify meaningful solutions. During the conference, Justice for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence: Transforming an Inequitable Family Law System, attorneys, scholars, survivor leaders, members of the judiciary, social service professionals, psychologists and advocates identified key obstacles facing survivors and recommended needed reforms to New York State’s family law system.
Specifically, the conference focused on widespread inequities in custody, visitation, and family offense cases, which proceed in both the family and supreme courts, and the devastating impact they have on survivors. Throughout the two days, panelists confronted the ways in which these courts fail to provide an effective and equitable system for domestic violence survivors seeking safety and protection for themselves and their families, and identified the most significant challenges they face. In family law proceedings, the stakes could not be higher for survivors and their children, as this inadequate and inequitable system of justice has led to tragic consequences, including death or injury at the hands of abusers, loss of child custody and/or visitation rights, and further trauma inflicted by the litigation itself. Panelists also addressed the egregious under-funding and poor functioning of the Family Courts and the endemic bias woven into these institutions.
The Conference included ten keynote and panel presentations addressing significant systemic challenges and potential solutions for survivors of intimate partner violence in the family law system. The Conference featured first-hand accounts by survivors and practitioners, original research presented by renowned experts, and insights provided by prominent sitting and retired judges. Conference panelists drew from materials regarding the intersection of racism, misogyny, and other forms of oppression and its impact on systems, including groundbreaking reports on gender and racial bias in the court system. In addition, each panel provided relevant materials, including scholarly research, reports, studies, articles, statutes and proposed legislation, all of which remain available on the Conference website at https://www.familylaw2022.com/.
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