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 as a result of 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 were failed by the system and to 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 behaviors that are damaging to children's mental and emotional well-being and can interfere with a relationship of a child and either parent. These behaviors most often accompany high conflict marriages, separation or divorce.

These behaviors whether verbal or non-verbal, 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 by and showing love for both of their parents. The destructive actions by an alienating parent or other third person (like another family member, or even a well-meaning mental health care worker) can become abusive to the child - as the 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 yet she was allowed to remain with her grandmother, and none of the reports were adequately investigated.

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 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.