January 31, 2019 Custody

Immigration Related Abuse and Child Custody: What Family Law Practitioners Can Do To Help

Stephen Zollman

During the most recent Family Law Section’s meeting in Tucson, a very informative visit to the border was arranged and several panels discussed immigration issues. During the Child Custody meeting, the question was raised about how we can best assist our fellow practitioners as they work with undocumented clients. As a former San Francisco Public Defender, I saw the not so great side of how immigration issues were raised, especially when domestic violence was involved. Being newly appointed to the ABA Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Commission and Vice Chair of the Vulnerable Adults Committee, I offered to check into some resources and draft this article as a way to generate discussion about best practices that make sure the best interest of the children triumph concerns of a lack of immigration documentation.   What I found was that 1) according to Judges associated with the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP) there is a need to do early client assessments for immigration relief and to help educate everyone involved in the proceedings, judges included, to dispel outstanding myths and 2) the need to do the immigration filings for relief or to make referrals to qualified organizations who can. Both of these are explored below.

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