FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — When Jeanette McCue found out she was obligated to pay her husband's legal fees in their divorce case, she considered it another "smack in the face."
With her husband in prison after being convicted of attacking her, McCue found herself ensnared by an obscure provision in Kentucky law that obliges victims of domestic violence to pay all divorce-case legal fees when an abusive spouse has been jailed.
Kentucky lawmakers are working to eliminate that burden.
A bill advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday would require the state to start paying the legal costs of jailed abusers in divorce cases.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Whitney Westerfield, a Republican from Hopkinsville, called it "head-scratching" that the provision is still on the books.
"Loopholes like that can sometimes crop up, and it's satisfying when we get to close one," Westerfield said. "And this is a good one to close."
The bill's lead sponsor is Democratic Sen. Morgan McGarvey of Louisville. Westerfield is among a bipartisan group of senators who have signed on as co-sponsors. McGarvey said the bill would change "one of the quirks in our law." He said the measure was the result of McCue's "courageous acts" in reaching out to lawmakers.
McCue told the committee her husband beat her "black and blue" and put a gun to her head in 2016. She said he also had drained their bank account.
"In the process of trying to get divorced, I was told, 'Ma'am, you're going to have to pay for your husband's attorney,'" she said. "That was a smack in the face."
McCue said the legal burden made her feel "victimized" all over again.
McCue said if she hadn't found an attorney whose office was willing to help with the fees, "I may not have divorced him."
"Because where do you go? What do you do? It was a horrible situation."
The legislation is Senate Bill 68.