This is The Family Court Report
caregivers, kids, survivors—this one's for you
Since 2008, over 900 children have been killed by a parent going through a divorce or separation.
In states across the U.S., Family Court judges and evaluators do not have mandatory—or sometimes any—training on domestic violence.
Only three states in the U.S. have passed coercive control legislation that codifies a comprehensive definition of domestic violence. (Five states have bills pending.)
A 2019 George Washington University study of over 2,000 court rulings on child custody cases involving domestic violence found that only 36% of child abuse claims by mothers were credited by the courts. Of those 36% of cases, 1.4 in 10 abusive fathers were granted custody of children despite confirmed abuse.
The Family Court system is broken.
I know this brokenness firsthand. I’ve been fighting for safety and justice for my son and myself through this system for over a decade.
I started this fight as a single parent and nightclub bartender in the early 2000’s. Over the last 15 years, I’ve swam (swum??) in many other waters: Education, community organizing, journalism, to name a few.
While my learnings from this wayward professional path will serve me well as I launch into this next chapter with The Family Court Report, ultimately, it’s my experience as a mom that’s at the heart of this endeavor.
No work I’ve ever done has felt this meaningful or urgent to me. Here’s what’s coming.
What is The Family Court Report?
The Family Court Report is a multimedia platform that shares news and human stories from the front lines of America’s Family Court system.
We are also building a grassroots-fueled policy think tank to analyze current family court policies and laws while strategizing pathways for change.
America’s Family Court system is failing to protect our most vulnerable caregivers and children due to systemic ignorance and dismissal of domestic violence.
Exacerbating this crisis is the fact that even as domestic violence rates climb, there continues to be an alarming lack of coverage by mainstream media of the ways our Family Courts are enabling abuse, increasingly with tragic results.
As The Family Court Report (FCR) launches, we have three central objectives guiding our work.
1. To share rigorously reported news and analysis on America’s Family Court system.
As a news site, FCR aims to contribute to filling the current gap in coverage of issues facing our Family Courts. Reporting will be data-driven and presented through an equity and inclusion lens. Special attention will be paid to the disproportionate representation of mothers of color and families experiencing poverty who are trapped by our justice system. Coverage will also focus on the state-by-state development of new coercive control laws which aim to codify more comprehensive definitions of domestic violence.
2. To amplify the voices of caregivers and children who have been impacted by the Family Court system, especially the voices of domestic violence survivors.
As a personal narrative platform, FCR will prioritize passing the microphone to caregivers and youth who have firsthand experience fighting for safety and justice through our Family Courts. Stories from families of color, LGBTQ parents, families experiencing poverty, and others who are underrepresented in mainstream Family Court discourse will be actively sought out and supported.
3. To analyze current Family Court policies and laws while strategizing pathways for change.
As a think tank, FCR seeks to bring together diverse scholars, court professionals, and families who have been impacted by the justice system to examine current Family Court challenges and develop advocacy strategies for policies that will result in safer and more inclusive outcomes for all.
The Family Court Report is reader-supported. Your free and paid subscriptions make this work possible. 💜
At the center of The Family Court Report logo is the ʻōhiʻa lehua flower, a plant that is endemic to Hawai'i and steeped in the islands' history and legends.
Feathery ʻōhiʻa lehua flowers may seem delicate, but these plants are remarkably hardy and capable of thriving in extremely harsh conditions. These are often the first species to bring life back to dry, barren lava rock plains after a volcanic eruption. Extending its root system deep into cracks in the rocks, these trees with fire-colored blooms are a keystone species for Hawai'i's native ecosystem, providing essential infrastructure needed for the forest to regenerate. ʻŌhiʻa lehua trees can reach up to 100 feet tall and can live for over 1,000 years.
In horrible news, due to a rapidly spreading fungal infestation with no known remedy, ʻōhiʻa lehua trees are currently facing serious threat. Hundreds of thousands of trees have already been lost since the infestation was first identified in 2014. Scientists, scholars, and local community members are working tirelessly to save the species.
The Family Court Report hopes that the ʻōhiʻa lehua flower serves as a symbol of resilience and resourcefulness for all who are fighting for safety and justice despite the bleak landscape of the Family Court system that enables abuse and silences survivors. The current collective efforts to save the ʻōhiʻa lehua trees is a nod to the grassroots reporting and advocacy that's gradually but steadily leading to much-needed change.
Is The Family Court Report on social media?
You bet. We're on Facebook @FamCourtReport where soon we’ll be sparking conversation and sharing news, essays, and links to fuel your cautious optimism.
The Family Court Report is generously supported by a 2023 Creative Capital Wild Futures: Art, Culture, Impact Award.
Our work is also generously supported by our paid newsletter subscribers and all of our loyal readers who share our stories. 💜
Everyone deserves to be safe. If you or someone you care about is experiencing domestic violence, you can find free and confidential help and resources through The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text “START” to 88788.