Enact Zoey's Law - Create a law to prevent Parental Alienation
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Zoenika Humphreys is not the first child to commit suicide due to the inadequate investigation of parental alienation claims, but she must be the last. We need a Zoey's Law to honor the memory of children who failed by the system and prevent the same thing from happening to another child because it will unless we act now.
Zoenika Humphreys, a 15-year-old girl from Swansea, Illinois, committed suicide on August 25, 2013. She never received the help she needed, regardless of letters written to the courts on her behalf. One out of five children is going through parental alienation; this is a form of abuse.
Parental alienation (or Hostile Aggressive Parenting) is a group of damaging behaviors to children's mental and emotional well-being and can interfere with a relationship between a child and either parent. These behaviors most often accompany high conflict marriages, separation, or divorce.
Whether verbal or non-verbal, these behaviors cause a child to be mentally manipulated or bullied into believing a loving parent is the cause of all their problems, and the enemy, to be feared, hated, disrespected, and avoided.
Parental alienation and hostile, aggressive parenting deprive children of their right to be loved and show love for both of their parents. The destructive actions by an alienating parent or other third people (like another family member, or even a well-meaning mental health care worker) can become abusive to the child.
For the child, these alienating behaviors are disturbing, confusing, and often frightening to the child and can rob the child of their sense of security and safety, leading to maladaptive emotional or psychiatric reactions.
There were over five reports of abuse and letters written to family court judges, but she was allowed to remain with her grandmother, and none of the statements were adequately investigated.
Changing New York domestic relations law by adding the following new section 242:
Child psychological abuse; adding the definition of "harm"; a provision relating to mandatory reporting requirements for child abuse, abandonment, or neglect to include psychological abuse; requiring the Board of Psychology within the Department of Health to revise the continuing education requirements for renewal of a license to practice psychology to include child psychological abuse.
"Harm" to a child's health and welfare can occur when any person:
Inflicts mental injury, as defined; on a child through the use of manipulation or psychological abuse, including, but not limited to, parental alienation, which creates a significant developmental pathology, personality disorder pathology, or delusional-psychiatric pathology as diagnoses by a mental health professional licensed in New York.
Mandatory reports of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect; mandatory reports of death; central abuse hotline. Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other people responsible for that child's welfare, as defined, or that a child is in need of supervision and care and has no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative immediately known and available to provide supervision and care shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department in the manner. For the purpose of the mandatory reporting requirements in this section, child abuse includes any harm or mental injury as those defined in the mental health legislation. The Board of Psychology within the Department of Health shall revise the requirements for renewal of a license to practice psychology in New York, to require continuing education regarding child psychological abuse, including, but not limited to, abuse through the use of manipulation or parental alienation.
To create a statutory presumption of joint custody for all minor children whose parents are no longer together, so that both parents can continue to share in the responsibilities and duties of the children's upbringing.
When a noncustodial parent has been granted visitation rights and those rights are denied or otherwise interfered with by the custodial parent or guardian, the noncustodial parent may file with the court clerk a motion to the enforcement of visitation rights.
The motion shall be filed on a form provided by the court clerk. Upon submitting the motion, the court shall immediately schedule a court date, should be no more than 14 days after the motion been filed.
If the court finds that visitation rights of the noncustodial parent have been unreasonably denied or otherwise interfered with by the custodial parent, the court shall enter an order providing for one or more of the following:
1. A specific visitation schedule;
2. Compensating visitation time for the visitation denied or otherwise interfered with, which time shall be of the same type (e.g. holiday, weekday, weekend, summer) as the visitation denied or otherwise interfered with, and shall be at the convenience of the noncustodial parent;
3. Posting of a bond, either cash or with sufficient sureties, conditioned upon compliance with the order granting visitation rights
4. Assessment of reasonable attorney fees, mediation costs, and
court costs to enforce visitation rights against the custodial parent;
5. Attendance of one or both parents at counseling or educational sessions which focus on the impact of visitation disputes on children;
6. Supervised visitation; or
7. Any other remedy the court considers appropriate, which may include an order which modifies a prior order granting child custody.
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