Senate Bill (SB) 654, backed by Angelina Jolie and Dylan Farrow, would require a judge to consider a parent’s history of domestic violence and substance abuse before allowing unsupervised visits with children.
SACRAMENTO, CA — Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) announced today his bill to create and
extend protections for children in family court advanced from the State Legislature and will head
to Governor Newsom’s desk for his signature. SB 654 passed the Senate Floor with unanimous
SB 654 would require judges to make findings on the record when entering an order for
unsupervised visitation with a parent who has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse.
This bill would also ensure children who wish to testify in contested custody battles do not have
to do so in the presence of the parties seeking custody, unless it is deemed necessary by a judge.
“I am grateful to my colleagues for their overwhelming support of SB 654, which will save lives,” Min said. “Child safety must be our number one priority in the courts, and we must ensure that we don’t put children in situations of ongoing danger of domestic violence or substance abuse. I am proud that this measure brings us one step closer to guaranteeing our laws better protect children and prioritize their health, safety, and welfare.”
This bill has enjoyed prominent and widespread bipartisan support. It is sponsored by the
Legislative Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse. According to Melissa Knight-Fine, Director of this
organization, “SB 654 promotes risk assessment and consideration of information from law
enforcement and other child protection agencies, proven tools to help prevent abuse. The bill will protect children in high-risk cases where parents who have been on supervised visitation due to violence now are asking for unsupervised visits.”
SB 654 has also received notable support from actor and internationally renowned children’s rights advocate Angelina Jolie. In her letter of support, Jolie wrote, “Having courts make findings on the record will ensure that histories of domestic violence or substance abuse are addressed and treated, and such findings will protect children from unsupervised visitation when unsupervised parenting is unsafe. The modest measures in SB 654 are also expected to prevent the need for additional hearings due to unsafe visitation.” Dylan Farrow, a prominent advocate for survivors of sexual abuse also encouraged public support for “this crucial legislation.”