The U.S. Model State Code
last updated February 1, 2006


In 1994, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges published a Model Code on Domestic and Family Violence. The code was not designed as a uniform code but rather one that should be adapted from state to state. The code was developed with an advisory committee composed of leaders in the domestic violence field from all over the United States including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, matrimonial lawyers, battered women's advocates, medical and health care professionals, law enforcement personnel, educators and others. As the Introduction to the code states: "Family violence is a wrong that needs righting in every state in this country. The key is community commitment to recognize, address and prevent such violence. Effective and enabling legislation is the cornerstone."

The 50-page code includes five chapters, General Provisions, Criminal Penalties and Procedures, Civil Orders for Protection, Family and Children and Prevention and Treatment. Each provision includes commentary as well as sample language. As the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence explains, the Model Code:

  • Treats domestic and family violence as a crime requiring aggressive and thorough intervention;
  • Emphasizes safety of the victim and children, and accountability of the batterer;
  • Offers procedures for comprehensive protection orders for victims; and
  • Sets for the ways for states and communities to coordinate efforts to identify, intervene and prevent domestic and family violence.

The Model Code should not, however, be applied uniformly. Rather, it is a list of the different elements that should be included in a domestic violence law, and must be adapted to fit the needs and specific legal requirements of the jurisdiction in question.