New bill would force state to pay legal fees of abusive spouses

New bill would force state to pay legal fees of abusive spouses
Janette McCue survived an abusive relationship with her husband. But the divorce process has not been easy. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Janette McCue survived an abusive relationship with her husband. But the divorce process has not been easy. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Janette and her son (Source: Family photo)
Janette and her son (Source: Family photo)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Janette McCue will never forget the evening of Sept. 6, 2016.

"He puts a towel around my throat," McCue said. "Drags me out of the shower with a towel."

Her husband attacked her. The abuse started in 2005, but everything came to a head on that September night.

"He racked the gun and I was begging him please don't, please don't, the gun shot, the gun rang out and I checked my body because I wasn't sure if I had been struck," McCue recalled.

Sept. 6 was the last time Janette McCue's husband abused her. It was the first time he hurt their son.

After 13 years of marriage, she filed for divorce.

"I want all of it over with and done and I'm told at this point in time unfortunately with the divorce and Mike being incarcerated, you, Janette, have to pay for his legal fees," McCue told us.

"The law in Kentucky is if someone is in jail, they're entitled to have an attorney," Cassie Chambers, McCue's attorney said. "That in of itself isn't a bad thing. You want people to have representation. The issue is who we're asking to pay for that representation. In Kentucky, it's going to be the petitioner, the person who's seeking the divorce."

McCue's husband drained their bank account. Legal aid paid for his attorney.

"The courts are making it harder for them to do what they want to be doing," Chambers said. "To take that brave step to leave an abusive relationship."

The issue prompted Chambers to write an op-ed that caught the eye of state Senator Morgan McGarvey.

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"This is an injustice and the good news is we're going to work in a bipartisan way to fix it," Senator McGarvey said.

Just days after reading the op-ed, McGarvey filed a bill with a solution. He wants the state to pay.

"There's a minimal cost to the state," McGarvey said.

"If this bill passes then it's going to help other people." McCue said. "Other mamas and other daughters."

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