GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) Divorce is never easy but when domestic violence is involved, safety is a primary concern. New laws are in place in Michigan to help protect women in these situations. WOTV 4 Women Crew Member and legal expert from DAWN: Divorce Attorneys for Women, Gail Saukas, helps better understand the laws.

  • HB4476: Limits court-ordered mediation for divorce cases if the survivor has a Personal Protection Order against the abuser of if there is an abuse or neglect case against either party.
  • HB4477: Protects the confidential address of abuse victims by providing alternative service to the victim.
  • HB4478: Changes Personal Protection Orders to include pets and companion animals.
  • HB4479 and 4488: Increases criminal penalties to repeat domestic violence offenders if the abuser knew the woman was pregnant.
  • HB4481: Is an expansion of previous law that prohibits a court from awarding custody of a child to a person convicted of rape that resulted in the child’s conception. Now a rape survivor can provide convincing evidence to the family court rather than a criminal conviction being required.
  • HB4480: Prevents the court from considering actions taken by a domestic violence survivor to protect her children from the abuser when deciding custody and visitation issues.

Learn more at a workshop with Lundy Bancroft, author of “Why Does He Do That?” and “The Batterer as Parent.” Bancroft will address gaining freedom from abuse and helping the community to fight domestic violence. The event is free and open to the public. It begins at 5 p.m. at Thousand Oaks Golf Club in Grand Rapids. A daytime event geared toward attorneys, judges, social workers, police officers, psychologists, clergy, and other professionals who work with victims of domestic violence takes place at 9:30 a.m. It is $25, which includes lunch. Tickets to the daytime workshop are available online.