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How Piqui’s Law Affects Custody Hearings

Posted by Mattis Law, A.P.C. on February 10, 2023 in Child Custody

A child with their hand pressed to a window seeing their reflection.

California SB 616 is known as Piqui’s Law. It was passed unanimously by the State Assembly in August 2022. This bill is designed to protect innocent children from domestic violence and child abuse during custody disputes. It was named in honor of a five-year-old boy named Piqui who was murdered by his father in Los Angeles during a custody dispute in 2017. Piqui’s mother, Ana Estevez, reportedly fought hard in family court to protect her child from her abusive ex-husband, but the court refused to stop visitation.

How Does Piqui’s Law Affect Custody Proceedings in California?

Since 2008, at least 859 children have been murdered in the U.S. by a divorcing or separating parent, as stated by Senator Susan Rubio. SB 616 is a step toward reforming the family court system to better protect survivors of domestic violence. It requires family court judges and others who perform duties in family law matters to undergo training that will better enable them to recognize and respond to child abuse and domestic violence, and to prioritize child safety in custody proceedings. The bill also clarifies California’s ban on family court use of dangerous reunification programs.

The California bill aligns with the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which provides financial incentives for state legislatures to reform family court laws to better protect abused children and survivors of domestic violence. VAWA brings child custody provisions into federal policy for the first time.

How Can Piqui’s Law Help If You Believe Your Child Is in Danger?

In matters involving children, the priority of California family law courts has been the best interest of the child. Most courts prefer joint custody arrangements, because they believe an equal relationship with both parents is important to the child’s social and emotional development. They encourage visitation arrangements that give the non-custodial parent ample time with the child. In the past, allegations of child abuse raised in custody matters have been discounted by family courts in many cases.

Under SB 616, family court judges and other family professionals are required to receive training, so they are better equipped to recognize domestic violence and abuse. Family courts are now required to prioritize the safety of the child in custody proceedings.

If you believe your child is in danger from the other parent and you fight to protect your child in family court, the judge is more likely to take your allegations seriously and act accordingly. If the court believes your claims of abuse are valid, it may not order visitation with the abusive parent. If visitation orders are already in place, the court may cancel them when presented with evidence of domestic violence or the potential for child abuse.

How Can a San Diego Family Law Attorney Help?

As a parent, keeping your child safe is the most important concern you have. Although both parents have rights under the law, your child’s right to protection from violence and abuse is a higher priority under SB 616. If the other parent has been violent or abusive in the past, our San Diego family law attorney can help you protect your child by presenting evidence to the court in a custody hearing that visitation should be denied.

At Mattis Law, A.P.C., we understand that nothing is more important than your children. Our practice is focused exclusively on family law matters. We have a proven track record for our clients and are specialists in all child custody issues. If you are concerned about protecting your child from an abusive parent, contact us at (858) 328-4400 for the legal help you need.

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