Congress Takes Action to Prioritize Child Safety in Custody Cases

Jacqueline Franchetti’s statement on the passage of H.Con.Res. 72

“We’re overjoyed with the results on the Hill today. We now have a federal initiative in place that will help keep babies and children in the U.S. safe from their abusive parents. This resolution is intended to make child safety the absolute first priority of all custody and visitation rulings. It’s not complicated: Safety risks and claims of family violence must be resolved first—before assessing other factors.

Our fight for family court reform is in honor of my daughter’s memory. Kyra Franchetti was a vibrant, happy and energetic two-year-old. In July 2016, during a sanctioned, unsupervised visit, she was shot twice by her father, who then set fire to his house and committed suicide. Despite clear evidence of domestic violence and his obsessive control and rage issues, a family court judge, a forensic evaluator and an attorney on the case had each separately dismissed Kyra’s father as a threat.

My daughter’s death is not an isolated incident nor a single tragic story. In the past decade, more than 650 children have been murdered by a parent in the midst of a divorce, separation, child-custody or child-support proceeding in the U.S. And each year, 1 million children are exposed to domestic violence and/or child abuse, which are often linked, with an average of 58,000 children each year court-ordered into a home with a dangerous parent who is sexually, physically or emotionally abusing them.

This is the first time in 30 years that Congress has taken an action on divorce and family court. As a result of today’s decision, the family court system is closer to being better able to address the safety of countless children who are being emotionally, physically and/or sexually abused by a parent. We will continue our commitment to ending this vicious cycle and to protecting other at-risk children from a fate like Kyra’s.”