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Tag: spousal abuse

Encourage Your Legislators to Vote Against H.B. (House Bill) 272 (2024 Utah General Legislative Session)

According to the “General Description” of H.B. 272, what’s not to like?:

Highlighted Provisions:

This bill:

▸ defines terms;

▸ in certain proceedings involving child custody:

  • specifies requirements for the admission of expert evidence; and
  • requires a court to consider evidence relating to domestic violence or abuse by a parent;

▸ imposes certain requirements and limitations regarding orders to improve the relationship between a parent and a child;

▸ requires the state court administrator to make recommendations regarding the education and training of court personnel involving child custody and related proceedings;

▸ requires that certain protective order proceedings comply with specific standards; and

▸ makes technical and conforming changes.

H.B. 272’s intentions are laudable, but the implementation, if H.B. 272 was made law, would be disastrous (and I choose my words carefully).

We don’t need more laws to prevent domestic violence and child abuse, reason being that more laws never have prevented and never will prevent (because they cannot prevent) domestic violence and child abuse.

Can you identify a single domestic violence victim who wouldn’t have been victimized but for a lack of legislation? Laws in the abstract don’t protect anyone. It’s the fair, effective, creation and enforcement of (needed) laws that protects. Passing more laws cannot guarantee anyone’s safety; laws and court orders don’t stop fists and bullets.

There are real DV and child abuse cases in the courts, but there are far too many fake ones in the courts (more than you likely imagine), and everyone knows why courts are afraid to acknowledge and condemn it: because they’re afraid they’ll be branded as “insensitive” and “uncaring” about DV and child abuse. So judges and commissioners who don’t want to “get it wrong,” overcompensate by “finding” DV and abuse that isn’t there. That way, nobody can claim the courts don’t care, and if innocent people go to prison and become pariahs as a result, “well, better him/her than me.” That’s not justice. That’s not rule of law.

Regarding the proposal in H.B. 272 for amending Section 30-3-10, determining credibility is the sole province of the court. Thus, the problem with “a credible allegation of child abuse” is that few courts can resist the temptation to err on the side of caution by treating virtually any allegation of child abuse as “credible”. To err on the side of caution is still error. Worse, it’s error knowingly committed for the sake of protecting the commissioner or judge from being criticized (or worse) for “getting it wrong.” See the article: Erring on the Side of Hidden Harm.

When judges are told “you need to do a better job identifying protecting DV and child abuse victims,” you’re telling judges to do a job that is not theirs. Overwhelmed judges will (unfortunately) respond to such unfair burdens simply by “finding” more DV and child abuse victims, and then say to the legislature, “Satisfied now?” That benefits no one. It erodes public trust in the courts.

There is a tremendous volume of false DV and child abuse claims. Indeed, I deal with more false claims than real claims at the district court level as a divorce and family law attorney. If you feel judges must “get more training” in the field of DV and child abuse, then requiring them to learn how better to identify real DV and child abuse inherently requires requiring them to learn how better to identify fake DV and child abuse claims.

It is unfair to demand of judges that they compensate for what the litigants might fail to do, i.e., gather and present the evidence necessary to prevail.

“More DV and abuse detection training for judges” sounds good but isn’t. If the state can’t afford more and better judges (and we need to accept that, if it can’t), “more DV and abuse training” is a counterproductive half-measure. If the legislature wants to spend more money on judge training, then spend that money helping judges learn and develop better command of the law, of evidence, and of sound adjudication.

The idea that state district court judges “need more training” in every particular dispute they hear is a problem generally. Our judges cannot become experts on every area of law, nor are they expected to be. All that a judge needs to do competently (and can be expected to do competently) is weigh the evidence presented to him/her correctly and apply the facts to the law that governs the case correctly.

We could “protect kids” from abuse by locking up every parent–that way they can’t abuse their kids. Of course, that way they can’t love and take care of their kids either. We will never solve DV and child abuse with more laws, but we will victimize the innocent if we howl for more witch hunt lawmaking.

Draconian creation and/or enforcement of laws like those proposed by H.B. 272 “protects” some by violating the rights of others. As does legislating and adjudicating on a “better safe than sorry” basis (regardless of whether it’s sincere), instead of on the facts (including the lack thereof). Experts can be helpful, but most cause more confusion than they dispel. Child custody cases today don’t suffer from a lack of expert input, rarely from a lack of needed or even warranted expert input, competent expert input, or justice-promoting expert input. “Expertise” on abuse (whatever this ever-expanding definition of “abuse” is coming to mean) is too subjective and pseudoscientific. This is why HB 272 would ultimately do more harm than good.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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Erring on the side of caution is not merely cowardly, it is evil

Erring on the side of caution is not merely cowardly, not merely corrupt, it is evil. 

We are to look upon it as more beneficial, that many guilty persons should escape unpunished, than one innocent person should suffer. The reason is, because it’s of more importance to community, that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt should be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in the world, that all of them cannot be punished; and many times they happen in such a manner, that it is not of much consequence to the public, whether they are punished or not. 

But when innocence itself, is brought to the bar and condemned, especially to die, the subject will exclaim, it is immaterial to me, whether I behave well or ill; for virtue itself, is no security. And if such a sentiment as this, should take place in the mind of the subject, there would be an end to all security what so ever. 

— John Adams  

(emphasis added) 

Erring on the side of caution when it comes to allegations of spousal and/or child abuse is a blatant violation of the preponderance of evidence standard. When courts err on the side of caution, when they take a better safe than sorry approach to allegations of spousal or child abuse, they aren’t doing anything virtuous, but the polar opposite. The guilty until proven innocent approach is a violation of the other spouse’s/parent’s civil rights. Any judge who issues a restraining order or protective order or supervised parent time order on the basis of erring on the side of caution has committed misconduct. Such is clear error and grounds for appeal from “correctness” (the appellate court decides the matter for itself and does not defer in any degree to the trial judge’s determination of law [1]to “abuse of discretion” (when a serious inequity has resulted [2], when a judge acts outside the law [3], when a ruling is beyond the limits of reasonability [4], is inherently unfair [5], fails to consider all the legally relevant factors [6]and all the way up to “clearly erroneous” (findings made by the trial court are not adequately supported by the record, resolving all disputes in the evidence in a light most favorable to the trial court’s determination [7] and findings are clearly erroneous if they are against the clear weight of the evidence or if the appellate court reaches a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made. [8]). [9]  

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

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What is the safest way to break up with an abusive partner?

What is the safest way to break up with an abusive partner? I heard many horror stories and afraid I might be next.

While there is no one “proper” way to break up with an What is the safest way to break up with an abusive partner,

Robert McQueeney’s answer on this thread is a good one:

The safest way? When the opportunity presents itself, never put material belongings over your life. Just leave. Don’t waste time packing everything, just take what you need and go, immediately. Grab any important papers, of course.

Ghost your way out of there. Change jobs, change locations, shucks, change states if you have to. Change your phone, ghost your way out of any social media.

Don’t say anything to him, get real devious with your life, it may well depend on it. Don’t try to get any satisfaction of telling your partner to their face that you are out of there. Just leave and do it quickly and expediently.

Furthermore, I’d add two things:

  1. Don’t expect the legal system to be much, if any, help to you in the process. The legal system was not designed to help you in this situation as well and as fast as you can help yourself. Don’t try to vindicate yourself through the legal system. Work out your problems without involving the legal system any more than you must. It’s slow, expensive, and not consistently fair. Don’t break the law, but don’t expect the legal system to help you. Help yourself.
  2. Be prepared to pay the costs associated with breaking free. You may have to leave personal property behind because it may prove too hard to slip away with the stuff that’s rightfully yours. If you have to change your job and residence, you may take a hit on your pay and end up in crappier lodgings as you re-build. Understand that this is for most the cost of freedom and peace of mind—and that’s worth the cost.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-safest-way-to-break-up-with-an-abusive-partner-I-heard-many-horror-stories-and-afraid-I-might-be-next

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