Bill Text: NY A06536 | 2019-2020 | General Assembly | Introduced


Bill Title: Relates to the creation of Melinda's Law in relation to the basis for removal of children.

Spectrum: Strong Partisan Bill (Republican 11-1)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-03-11 - referred to children and families [A06536 Detail]

Download: New_York-2019-A06536-Introduced.html


                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
                                          6536
                               2019-2020 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                     March 11, 2019
                                       ___________
        Introduced  by M. of A. SMITH -- read once and referred to the Committee
          on Children and Families
        AN ACT to amend the family court act,  in  relation  to  the  basis  for
          removal of children and the creation of "Melinda's Law"
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section 1. This act shall be known and  may  be  cited  as  "Melinda's
     2  Law".
     3    §  2.  Legislative  intent.  The legislature hereby finds and declares
     4  that in cases of domestic violence, the abuse sometimes moves  from  the
     5  spouse  to  the children. Once the abusive spouse begins to over-discip-
     6  line the children, the abusive spouse will  often  use  threats  or  the
     7  removal  of  the  children  by  child  protective services as a means to
     8  compel subjugation from the non-abusive spouse. In addition, the abusive
     9  spouse prevents the reporting of  such  incidents  to  child  protective
    10  services  by  making the non-abusive spouse an accomplice in this abuse.
    11  Under this threat, children are subjected to escalating abuse that could
    12  have been prevented if the non-abusive  spouse  had  a  safe  harbor  to
    13  report such abuse at the early stages without fear of losing their chil-
    14  dren.  By  this  act the legislature intends to take such tool away from
    15  the abusive spouse by providing the non-abusive spouse a way  to  report
    16  such  incidents without fear of having their children removed from their
    17  custody. The sequence of events above are an apt description of  "Melin-
    18  da".  Melinda  is a woman suffering from domestic violence. She had been
    19  abused by her husband over a   twenty year period. The  abuse  had  seen
    20  verbal,  psychological,  and  physical. She took the abuse in the belief
    21  that her children needed a father. Eventually the abuse was  transferred
    22  to  the  children.  It  started with excessive spanking, locking a young
    23  teenager in the basement, and pushing a five year  old  to  the  ground.
    24  Melinda  confronted  her husband and put herself between her husband and
    25  her children resulting in a black-eye to Melinda. She told  her  husband
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD06948-01-9

        A. 6536                             2
     1  that  she  would  not let him hit the children and would call the police
     2  and have him arrested. Her husband responded  that  if  she  called  the
     3  police,  her  children  would be taken away from her by child protective
     4  services.  The  husband than graduated to hitting his teenage son with a
     5  wooden rod that left welts. The abuse in this cycle of domestic violence
     6  is escalated over time when the abusive spouse believes that the  non-a-
     7  busive  spouse  or  caretaker  is afraid to report such abuse, under the
     8  fear of losing their children. By creating a safe harbor under Melinda's
     9  Law we have the opportunity to prevent the escalation of abuse  to  both
    10  the  spouse  victim  and  the  children  who are the victims of domestic
    11  violence.
    12    § 3. Section 1012 of the family court act is amended by adding two new
    13  subdivisions (o) and (p) to read as follows:
    14    (o) "Domestic violence" means:
    15    (i) any conduct which would constitute an offense in  the  penal  law,
    16  and created a substantial risk of physical or emotional harm, regardless
    17  of whether such injury occurred; or
    18    (ii)  any  other abuse, including but not limited to verbal, emotional
    19  or psychological abuse, including slapping, that creates  a  substantial
    20  risk  of  physical  or  emotional  harm  to such person or such person's
    21  child, regardless of whether such harm occurred.
    22    (p) "Victim spouse or domestic partner subjected to domestic violence"
    23  means the respondent spouse or domestic partner who is  the  non-abusive
    24  spouse  or domestic partner, and is determined to be subjected to domes-
    25  tic violence as defined by subdivision (o) of this section.
    26    § 4. Section 1017 of the family court act is amended by adding  a  new
    27  subdivision 1-a to read as follows:
    28    1-a.  (a) In determining whether there is a suitable person related to
    29  the child with whom such child may appropriately reside  under  subdivi-
    30  sion  one  of this section and if both parents are respondents the court
    31  shall first inquire as to the following:
    32    (i) whether either respondent has been subjected to domestic  violence
    33  by the other respondent and if so;
    34    (ii)  whether  such  victim  spouse  or  domestic partner subjected to
    35  domestic violence reported the incident precipitating a removal order or
    36  hearing under this article and if so;
    37    (iii) whether such victim spouse  or  domestic  partner  subjected  to
    38  domestic  violence  has  been  neglectful  or  abusive in their behavior
    39  towards the child or children at issue.
    40    (b) If the court shall determine under paragraph (a) of this  subdivi-
    41  sion  that a respondent is a victim spouse or domestic partner subjected
    42  to domestic violence and reported the incident precipitating  the  order
    43  or  hearing  under  this  article  then the court shall deem such victim
    44  spouse or domestic partner subjected to domestic violence a  non-respon-
    45  dent  for  purposes of the removal order or hearing; provided that, such
    46  victim spouse or domestic partner subjected to domestic violence is  not
    47  neglectful or abusive in their behavior towards the child or children at
    48  issue.  If  the  court  so  finds, the court shall award custody to such
    49  non-respondent parent provided that such custody is in the  best  inter-
    50  ests of the child or children.
    51    (c)  If  a  determination is made that both parents remain as respond-
    52  ents, the court may then determine whether there is  a  suitable  person
    53  related to the child with whom such child may appropriately reside under
    54  subdivision one of this section.
    55    (d)  The court may conduct in camera interviews, bar the appearance of
    56  the respondent abuser or take any other  steps  as  it  deems  necessary

        A. 6536                             3
     1  within  its  statutory and constitutional powers to determine whether or
     2  not a respondent is a victim spouse within the meaning  of  subparagraph
     3  (i) of paragraph (a) of this subdivision.
     4    (e)  This  subdivision  shall not apply to instances of sexual crimes,
     5  murder or where there has been prior incidents  involving  disfigurement
     6  of the child or children at issue.
     7    §  5.  Paragraphs (vi) and (vii) of subdivision (a) of section 1022 of
     8  the family court act are renumbered paragraphs (vii) and  (viii)  and  a
     9  new paragraph (vi) is added to read as follows:
    10    (vi)  If  the  court shall determine, pursuant to subdivision one-a of
    11  section one thousand seventeen of this article that a respondent  parent
    12  is  a  non-respondent  for the reasons given thereunder, the court shall
    13  issue a temporary order of  protection  against  the  respondent  abuser
    14  pursuant to paragraph (v) of this subdivision.
    15    §  6.  Subdivision  (b)  of  section  1027  of the family court act is
    16  amended by adding a new paragraph (vi) to read as follows:
    17    (vi) If the court shall determine, pursuant to  subdivision  one-a  of
    18  section  one thousand seventeen of this article that a respondent parent
    19  is a non-respondent for the reasons given thereunder,  the  court  shall
    20  issue  a  temporary  order  of  protection against the respondent abuser
    21  pursuant to paragraph (v) of this subdivision.
    22    § 7. Subdivision (a) of section 1028  of  the  family  court  act,  as
    23  amended  by  chapter  41  of  the  laws  of  2010, is amended to read as
    24  follows:
    25    (a) Upon the application of the parent or other person legally respon-
    26  sible for the care of a child temporarily removed  under  this  part  or
    27  upon  the application of the child's attorney for an order returning the
    28  child, the court shall hold a hearing to  determine  whether  the  child
    29  should  be  returned  (i)  unless  there  has been a hearing pursuant to
    30  section one thousand twenty-seven of this article on the removal of  the
    31  child  at  which  the parent or other person legally responsible for the
    32  child's care was present and had the opportunity to  be  represented  by
    33  counsel, or (ii) upon good cause shown, which shall include a finding by
    34  the court, at any time in the proceedings, that a respondent parent is a
    35  non-respondent  pursuant to section one thousand seventeen of this arti-
    36  cle. Except for good cause shown, such  hearing  shall  be  held  within
    37  three  court  days  of  the application and shall not be adjourned. Upon
    38  such hearing, the court shall grant the  application,  unless  it  finds
    39  that the return presents an imminent risk to the child's life or health.
    40  If  a parent or other person legally responsible for the care of a child
    41  waives his or her right to a hearing under this section, the court shall
    42  advise such person at that time that, notwithstanding  such  waiver,  an
    43  application  under  this  section  may  be  made  at any time during the
    44  pendency of the proceedings.
    45    § 8. This act shall take effect immediately.
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