Recent Amendment to Domestic Relations Law §240

On January 15, 2009, another amendment to Domestic Relations Law §240 became effective. The amendment prohibits courts from signing custody orders before they check the following registries: the domestic violence registry, the Family Court “Universal Case Management System” (for child protective decisions and orders), and the sex offender registry. The court is required to notify the attorneys, self-represented parties, and attorneys for children of the results of the search. This notification can be made in writing or orally, on the record, especially with respect to the sex offender registry, since the search of that registry will not generate a report that can be shared with the parties.

As a result of the amendment, the judgments of divorce, permanent custody orders, and any temporary orders involving petitions for custody or visitation must include the language stating that required databases were reviewed and what information, if any, from the databases was relied upon by the court in issuing the order.

The above is likely to place an additional burden on the courts, litigants, and attorneys.

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