Pennsylvania State Representative Margo Davidson, (D-164) has spoken out on a bill in the House which would protect children from court ordered visitation when in fact that parent has been convicted of assaulting the child. For instance, at a recent press conference about children being ordered to visitation during custody suits, one woman who spoke said that her husband was convicted of sexually assaulting their very young child.
Continuing she said that “He filed for divorce and sought half of all marital assets, including my retirements and the land and farmhouse that has been in my family since 1880,” she said. “He also requested alimony. I had to pay the man who sexually assaulted my daughter $40,000 to keep my children in the only home they’ve ever known.”
The bill introduced by Representative Tina Davis of Bucks County, House Bill 956 was first introduced last March but never got out of the House Judiciary Committee. Davis reintroduced it last month. Davis stated that “many of the approaches the courts take today work poorly for children.” She continued stating that under her bill a professional who provides advice, a recommendation or evaluations to the court must have sufficient expertise in issues relating to domestic violence or child sexual abuse.
The bill would also call for Judges and attorneys handling child custody cases to receive training to learn how to respond to abuse allegations. If a court makes a finding of abuse, the abusive party would be limited to supervised custody until that party can prove he is not a risk to the child. Davidson has supported the bill.
Representative Davidson was also a vocal supporter of the budget plan that Governor Wolf introduced this week. Davidson stated the she is pleased with the governor’s continued emphasis on education funding, but said she would have liked to hear more from Wolf about ways to address gun violence, which she called “a public health threat.” “We need a champion who has the bully pulpit of the governor,” Davidson said.