Child Safety First Bill would put abuse as priority in child custody cases
State Sen. Alex Bergstein unveiled her proposal Friday for the Child Safety First Bill – the same week that the Jennifer Dulos case made headlines across the nation.
Before Jennifer Dulos disappeared on May 24, she was in the middle of a contentious and drawn out divorce case with Fotis Dulos. Hundreds of motions were filed over two years, including ones where she told the court she feared for her life.
“Such cases are often labeled ‘high conflict,’ but that's a misnomer,” says Bergstein. “These cases are often the results of abusers weaponizing the legal system to harass, intimidate and destroy the person who dared to leave.”
Bergstein says there are many failures in the system that need to be addressed. Her proposed legislation focuses on one of them – child custody.
Currently, the Connecticut statute requires courts to look at domestic abuse among the 16 factors when determining what's in a child's best interest. Bergstein believes abuse is the most important factor and should be determined first.
“We stand here today seeking justice for Jennifer and for all the women and children whose lives have been lost,” Bergstein said Friday, surrounded by advocates. “Though we can't bring any of them back, we can work to ensure the safety of those who are still alive and suffering from abuse.”
Carrie Luft, a close friend of Jennifer Dulos, was also in attendance to hear the proposal. She's acted as spokesperson for the family for more than seven months but did not wish to speak to News 12 on camera.