Domestic Violence Court Bill Headed to Governor

Staff Writer

A bill establishing an Oklahoma domestic violence court is headed to the governor’s desk to be signed into law after final passage in the House on Monday.

House Bill 1121 by state Rep. Ryan Martinez and Sen. Stephanie Bice will create an integrated domestic violence court in Oklahoma. The bill passed 88 to 3.

“Right now, victims of domestic violence have to go through the traditional court setting when seeking child custody, divorces and other matters,” said Martinez, R-Edmond. “They may have to appear before various judges in different courts sometimes using different attorneys. Having different judgements rendered can be very confusing. This bill sets up a special court system with judges who have particular knowledge of domestic violence situations, assisting these vulnerable victims.

“Oklahoma is making great strides in the right direction when it comes to protecting victims of domestic violence,” Martinez said. “I am disappointed that there are still members of this body that do not see the value in protecting victims of domestic violence, but I’m pleased with the overall vote.”

Martinez pointed out that Oklahoma currently ranks fourth in the nation for intimate partner homicides. In 2015, 90 people were killed in domestic abuse situations, according to a recent report from the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board.

He said this legislation will smooth the court process for domestic violence victims.

The bill came back to the House after being slightly amended by the Senate. It now awaits the governor’s signature to become law.