Domestic Violence Bills Aimed At Better Protecting Survivors

A package of domestic violence bills introduced in the Michigan Legislature is aimed at protecting survivors of abuse who are trying to rebuild their lives.

The domestic violence bills, House Bills 5247-5251, would:

  • create a residential address confidentiality program.
  • require that employers let victims of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking to use their sick leave to get help or receive services.
  • allow survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking to qualify for unemployment benefits if they lose their job for reasons associated with the abuse.
  • prevent landlords and real estate agents from discriminating against survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking.
  • provide eviction protection for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking.
  • require anyone accused of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking to relinquish all firearms if that person has been served a Michigan personal protection order (PPO).

Domestic Violence Bills: The Details

Currently, Michigan is one of 14 states without an address confidentiality law. Under the proposed legislation, domestic violence victims could ask the state to classify their residential address as “confidential” and could have a state mailing address. An agency would then forward mail to their residence. In addition, victims could avoid jury duty and their voter registration would be shielded from public record requests.

The proposal also helps victims in situations where they face being fired from their job because they must take time off for court dates. Under the bills, employers would have to let employees use their sick time to provide or receive assistance due to domestic violence, assault or stalking. Domestic violence victims would also be permitted to receive unemployment benefits if they have to leave their job because of the abusive circumstances.

Further, the measure provides that municipalities could not penalize landlords and tenants for placing “too many” domestic violence calls, whether it’s to report a crime or an emergency.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the legislation is the part related to PPOs and firearms. Under the proposal, a person seeking protection may ask that the order include a prohibition on buying or possessing a firearm. The bill would require the relinquishment or sale of guns within 24 hours of a such an order being served.

While the legislation currently sits in a House committee, proponents are hopeful the bills will pass during the 2017-18 session. Stay tuned to the Sinas Dramis Family Law Blog for updates.

If you need help with a personal protection order or have questions regarding another domestic relations issue, including divorce, child support or child custody, our Michigan family law attorneys can help. Contact us today.