State Sen. Alex Kasser (D-36th District) named her proposed bill after Jennifer Farber Dulos to protect all victims of domestic violence.
Jennifer Dulos was a mother of 5 who sought to get full custody of all her children. Because of this ongoing custody battle, Dulos was terrified that her husband would harm her. Down the line, Jennifer vanished and was last seen on May 24, 2019, after dropping her kids off at school. To this day, her body has still not been found. However, the medical examiner believes Jennifer Dulos was a victim of a brutal homicide. She was most likely attacked in the garage of her New Canaan home, according to local law enforcement. Jennifer’s husband, Fotis Dulos, faced multiple charges for the death and vanishing of Jennifer. But before any convictions were made, Fotis Dulos died at a New York hospital after a suicide attempt on January 30.
Kasser aims to bring the ongoing cycle of abuse to a halt. The Jennifer Dulos legislation will define domestic violence more broadly so victims of assault can easily get restraining orders from their abusers. The definition of domestic violence will include abuse, stalking, threats, many forms of non-physical harm, and more.
“In determining custody arrangements, the number one factor that courts must consider is the best interests of the children,” says Connecticut child custody attorney Matthew F. Dolan of Dolan Divorce Lawyers, PLLC. “Courts will also consider any negative factors involving the parents, such as a record of child abuse, domestic violence, or manipulation. For older children, the court may take their preference into account as well.”
A close friend of Dulos, Carrie Luft, has been a strong advocate for Kasser’s bill and hosted many events to spread awareness of domestic violence. Nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by their partners, and more than 20,000 calls go to domestic violence hotlines in the United States daily, according to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Luft believes this bill will create a large shift that will possibly change the story for all victims of abuse.
The bill will also add coercive control and protective orders even if a victim has not been physically abused. After leaving her husband in 2017, Jennifer tried to get emergency custody of her children and a restraining order, but was denied both since there was no evidence of physical abuse. Coercion can be just as detrimental as physical abuse, according to advocates. California and Hawaii recently incorporated coercive control language into their legislation to protect victims.
Kasser’s goal is to prevent any more tragedies like this from happening since this case is a representation of multiple cases that already happened in the state of Connecticut. Her revised version of the Jennifer Dulos law will make it easier for victims to get the protection they need. Additionally, there are other forms of non-physical abuse that a victim can take to court if the definition of domestic abuse expands. Many advocates are hoping that the Connecticut state legislature passes this bill; the Judiciary Committee will determine whether or not it will.
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