AUGUSTA — The Maine House of Representatives voted Tuesday to enact legislation sponsored by Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, that would require expert witnesses in child custody cases to meet training standards and demonstrate knowledge of domestic abuse and child resilience, safety and security.
“This constituent bill will help ensure that expert witnesses testifying in child custody cases have the proper training and expertise in how domestic abuse and violence continues after the separation of parents and how it affects children,” said Doudera. “It will help domestic abuse survivors and their children as they navigate our family courts.”
Regarding parental rights and responsibilities in child custody cases that involve domestic abuse, LD 538 would require experts appointed for forensic evaluations or assessments to be a qualified licensed clinical social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist, a press release stated.
They would also need to have training and demonstrated experience on the effects of domestic abuse and violence on children, supportive conditions, methods for reducing post-separation abuse and best practices for recognizing, asking about and assessing the effects of abuse, according to the release.
The bill faces further votes in the Senate.
Doudera is serving her third term in the Maine House and is a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Marine Resources Committee. She represents the towns of Camden and Rockport and is the Maine State Lead for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. She also chairs the Legislature’s Gun Safety Caucus.