In 1994, the NCJFCJ promulgated the Model Code on Domestic and Family Violence (Model Code) to promote consistency across state lines in how domestic violence is handled in the criminal and civil legal systems. The Model Code is a comprehensive code on domestic violence that includes chapters on general provisions, criminal penalties and procedures, civil orders for protection, family and children, and prevention and treatment. It provides a framework for states to address domestic violence, and for states that have adopted this framework, in whole or in part, it represents a strong public policy statement of a commitment to recognize, address, and prevent domestic violence. Chapter 4, the family and children chapter, was the most groundbreaking and far-reaching because it elevated the safety of the victim and child above all other best interest of the child (BIC) factors, and it included a rebuttable presumption against awarding sole legal, sole physical, or joint physical custody to a perpetrator. The NCJFCJ worked collaboratively with national experts and national and federal partners to update Chapter 4 of the Model Code in 2022. The NCJFCJ focused on what the field has learned over the past 20 years and the impact these laws have had on victims and their children, and it is providing strategies and practices, based upon what the field has learned, to implement the revised section in a way that protects and prioritizes safety for victim parents and children.
The Model Code was drafted by a multidisciplinary Advisory Committee comprised of judges, battered women’s advocates, attorneys, law enforcement officers, and other professionals. The five chapters of the Model Code include General Provisions, Criminal Penalties and Procedures, Civil Orders for Protection, Family and Children, and Prevention and Treatment. Commentary was written by Barbara J. Hart, Esq. follows each section of the Model Code.