New Grant Announced During Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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More than 18,000 domestic violence civil protection orders were filed in Ohio’s courts last year, according to statistics compiled by the Ohio Supreme Court. Wednesday, the Supreme Court announced funding for a new project to assist courts when it comes to dealing with parental rights in domestic violence cases.

A $50,000 grant from the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice will be used in part to support the domestic violence track at the Domestic Relations Summit in April 2014. The grant will also help develop a court-specific tool to enhance judicial decision-making in child custody and visitation matters in families with a history of domestic violence.

Announcement of the grant comes at the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month that has been officially observed in October since Congress passed the first commemorative legislation in 1989.

“Children’s safety and well-being is paramount in every decision made by judges and magistrates, yet a delicate balance must be struck to ensure the safety of non-abusive parents, fairly allocate parental rights and responsibilities, and break the cycle of violence,” Supreme Court Domestic Violence Program

Manager Diana Ramos-Reardon said. “The federal funding will enable us to collaborate with national and state partners to develop resources for domestic relations courts to access better information to make the best determination in these cases.”

Ramos-Reardon added that while the specifics of the court tool are being developed, judges, magistrates, attorneys, and victim advocates will be key collaborators in the process. A pilot program is expected in early 2015 before the tool becomes available to all domestic relations courts.

The Ohio Supreme Court Domestic Violence Program assists courts and justice system partners develop and strengthen effective responses to domestic violence and related cases. Program staff monitors trends, disseminates information, and recommends rules and standards supported by promising policies and practices.