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Kentucky Bill Would Make False Accusations Of Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault Considered During Child Custody Disputes

February 25, 2021

A bill introduced in Kentucky this week would “add false reporting of claims of abuse towards another party or de facto custodian to the list of factors a court shall consider when making a custody determination.” It would also add making a false or baseless claim of domestic violence or sexual assault a separate crime from filing a false police report.

The bill, introduced Kentucky state Reps. Jason Nemes (R) and C. Ed Massey (R), was introduced on Monday and includes information about child custody disputes, with amended language that includes a new factor to be considered when determining custody between two parents. The new language reads:

A finding by the court that a party or de facto custodian has violated subsection (1)(f) of Section 2 of this Act by making false reports of domestic violence or abuse as defined in KRS 403.720 or sexual assault as defined in KRS 456.010 against another party or de facto custodian in an attempt to adversely affect custody or parenting time. Any party who violates subsection(1)(f) of Section 2 of this Act shall not be entitled to a rebuttable presumption of joint custody and equally shared parenting time;

The new section appears directly beneath another factor with similar language but regarding a court finding that one of the parents or de facto guardian has committed abuse against the child or each other.

The bill also amends current law to expand the definition of filing a false police report to include falsely reporting “an incident of domestic violence or abuse as defined in KRS 403.720 or sexual assault as defined in KRS 456.010 to any law enforcement officer, officer of the court, or government agency officer when he or she knows the information reported, conveyed, or circulated is false or baseless.”

Critics have already jumped on the bill, claiming it would keep “survivors” from coming forward for fear that their claims could be determined false and thus lose custody of their children. The truth is that the bill would require the person who made the false report to be found guilty in the same manner a person accused of committing abuse would be found, meaning there is a high bar to determine someone’s guilt.

False accusations of violence and abuse are unfortunately more common than one would expect in divorce and custody disputes, as one parent may seek to gain leverage over the other by claiming to be a victim. As The Daily Wire previously reported, the false accusations often work by getting the accused to cave on demands to avoid a public accusation, which can be personally and professionally damaging even if they are untrue.

The excuse that victims would not come forward if more false accusers are punished makes no sense, especially in today’s society where allegations are believed up front. It is rare for a false accuser to be punished even if found guilty because of such baseless claims that real victims will be deterred from reporting. No other crime is treated this way.

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