Who We Are: Family Violence Appellate Project was founded in California by two UC Berkeley Law students spurred into action after learning that abusive parents are often awarded child custody in domestic violence cases. FVAP was the first-ever non-profit organization in California dedicated to providing free appellate representation to domestic violence survivors with the goal of creating a robust, influential body of case law to change how family courts throughout California respond to domestic violence survivors and their children. And now, FVAP is expanding into Washington state!
In partnership with 22 domestic violence organizations and academics FVAP successfully obtained publication of a case in which a survivor of domestic violence and their child came to the U.S. to flee abuse. Under the Hague Convention, when a parent comes to the U.S. to flee abuse, children with them are typically sent back to their “home country” for that country to make custody decisions. This case establishes that if the abusive parent is in denial of their domestic violence problem, then it cannot be safe to return the child, no matter whether the home country has strong laws about domestic violence or otherwise. Read the published opinion.
We’re in oral argument June 22 representing a survivor of domestic violence who was granted a five-year extension of her restraining order. Her abuser is appealing the extension arguing that the trial court made mistakes before arriving at their decision to extend the order. FVAP and our client believe the trial court was correct in their decision to extend the restraining order, and we will be arguing that in court on our survivor client’s behalf.
This Saturday, June 19 is Juneteenth.
Over the years, Juneteenth has become a time of celebration for the African American community to commemorate freedom and come together.
Learn more about Juneteenth at www.Juneteenth.com.
FVAP Advisory Board member, Professor Mindy Mechanic, and Staff Attorney, Cory Hernandez, will be presenting a training on June 3 called Domestic Abuse is More than Physical Violence: Examining the Role of Coercive Control. This training will focus on recently enacted Senate Bill 1141, which clarified the definition of “domestic violence” for getting a restraining order and for deciding child custody matters. Now the definition expressly includes coercive control as a form of domestic violence, which further clarifies how
nonphysical forms of harm can constitute abuse under the law.
Please note this training is not open to the public, and any court staff interested in attending should speak with their supervisors.
FVAP is honored to have been asked by the Judicial Council to train court staff.
In an interview last week, FVAP’s Legal Director Nancy K.D. Lemon shared with KQED reporters why former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ restrictions on asylum for survivors of domestic violence threaten women’s rights. In 2018, Sessions refused to provide asylum to a survivor of domestic violence from El Salvador who had been abused by her ex-husband for over a decade, deciding that domestic violence is a private or personal crime and not a qualifying reason for asylum. However, violence against women is a deep-rooted societal problem that demands government intervention, and it’s common for survivors to come to the U.S. seeking refuge from abuse because law enforcement in their home country would not provide help. In fact, FVAP is currently representing a survivor of domestic violence who faced this same barrier to safety before coming to the U.S. We are hopeful that the new administration will loosen the current restrictions so that survivors fleeing abuse can get the safety and justice they deserve. Read more in KQED’s article here.