Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Governor signs legislation that will give children a voice in family courts

SACRAMENTO- Assembly Bill 1050, a measure authored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) that seeks to give children in domestic violence cases a chance to advocate on behalf of their own interests in court custody proceedings, was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger. The bill passed out of both houses of the State Legislature with bipartisan support.

Last May, as Chair of the Select Committee on Domestic Violence, Assemblywoman Ma convened the first ever legislative hearing on children´s right and family courts. After hearing from numerous litigants and children at the hearing, Assemblywoman Ma committed to work on legislation that would enable children to have a voice in family courts.

"In cases of domestic violence, it is often the lives of the children involved that are most affected," said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma. "After hearing stories from victims where children were being awarded to the batterers and having the State Auditor investigate such occurrences, I knew it was necessary to address the issue. AB 1050 is an important step in providing piece of mind and strengthening the law for children."

AB 1050 will allow children 14 and older to testify in family court, giving them a much needed voice in proceedings that greatly impact their lives. This is a first-of-its-kind measure and will change the limitations on children testifying.

Over the last year, Assemblywoman Ma has worked with various organizations and has built a broad-based coalition of support. One such group is the California Commission on the Status of Women.

"Equality and justice is at the heart of our mission including promoting safety for women and their families," said Mary Wiberg, Executive Director of the Commission. "AB 1050 is an important measure that will protect children from being placed in dangerous or abusive situations. We are proud to support it."