After living a parent’s worst nightmare for six months, Ali Kessler, along with an army of Family Court advocates and local politicians, finally received news that Greyson’s Law was filed in the state of Florida. Kessler has been fighting for legislation that would allow judges to remove a child from a home over concerns that one parent is threatening or abusing the other. Kessler said to MSNBC, “I have to fight for my son who can’t fight for himself.”
According to news reports, on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, state Senator Lori Berman of Palm Beach and state Representative Michael Grieco of Miami filed a bill, “Greyson’s Law,” which is the unfortunate product of the tragic death of 4-year-old Greyson Kessler. Greyson was the victim of a murder-suicide involving his father just a couple of months prior, which was 100% preventable.
Days before the murder, Greyson’s mother, Ali Kessler, filed an injunction for a domestic violence petition and an emergency pick-up order with Broward Family Court outlining her imminent fears for her child’s safety. She also included 250 pages of documentation stating she received a text from Mr. Stacey saying he would like to see her head separated from her body, but that he isn’t the violent type. She stated in her evidence, “I fear for my life, my boyfriend’s life, but most importantly, my child’s life.”
In the days leading up to the shooting, Ms. Kessler brought her car into a body shop in which they found a tracker placed on the car by Mr. Stacey. Greyson’s father sent multiple disturbing and threatening text messages to Ms. Kessler, but the injunction was denied stating there wasn’t enough evidence that the child was in danger. The emergency pick-up order that was asked for because Greyson was missing from school was also denied stating “the child is just with his father.”
Days after Greyson’s murder, Ali Kessler got a stalking injunction approved. This proves that a judge believed Ms. Kessler was in fact in danger, but her child was fine. Kessler had been trying to get a restraining order for domestic violence against Stacey, who had been sending her abusive and threatening text messages for years. Florida law has no formal mechanism that allows for threats directed at a parent to create a nexus with a child. Moreover, “coercive control” is currently not contemplated in Florida domestic violence law, this new bill of legislation would remedy its absence.
Greyson’s law aims to expand the definition of domestic violence to include Coercive Control, always putting the child first. Proper training for all law officials, judges, lawyers, and custody evaluators needs to be in place in order to decipher the “red flags” shown to keep children safe.
Grieco and Berman are hoping for bipartisan support in passing the bill into law hopefully by the spring of 2022.
“Protecting our children must always be at the top of our priority list as legislators. Creating a coercive control definition will help establish the long-known psychological pattern of using mental, emotional, financial and/or other abuses in domestic situations to become quantified in punishable steps by the court, especially as it relates to child custody. Greyson’s life was cut way too short for reasons that were preventable and it is imperative we protect all the other Greyson’s in our state,” Berman said.
State Representative Michael Grieco stated, “Anyone who places a tracker on a co-parent’s vehicle or tells them that their head should be separated from their body’ or that they ‘deserve to die’ should not only be enjoined from contact with the recipient of the stalking or threats but their custodial rights should be immediately evaluated. There have unfortunately been hundreds of preventive cases in the United States in which a disturbed parent murdered their child in a twisted effort to punish the other parent or themselves, but Senator Berman and I have now chosen to prioritize this issue here in our state. Florida law failed Greyson and Ali, and the passage of HB 781 will hopefully prevent another tragedy.”
Kessler, a digital marketing consultant, has been feverishly dedicating much of her time to the forming of Greyson’s Law, Greysonschoice.org, and other advocacy efforts so that this travesty doesn’t happen to other children and families. You can show support to honor Greyson by purchasing a Mom + Gigs shirt, and loved ones created a GoFundMe page to assist Kessler with her living expenses during her time of need.