ASSEMBLY, No. 1977

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  JOHN F. MCKEON

District 27 (Essex and Morris)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywomen Casagrande and N.Munoz

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Prohibits good faith allegations of child abuse from being used against the accuser in a child custody proceeding; makes it a disorderly persons offense to file a false allegation of child abuse.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning child abuse and supplementing Title 9 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  In any case involving custody of a child, a parent of the child who makes a good faith allegation based on a reasonable belief supported by facts that the child is the victim of child abuse, as defined in section 2 of P.L.1971, c.437 (C.9:6-8.9), and acts lawfully and in good faith in response to that reasonable belief to protect the child or seek treatment for the child shall not be deprived of custody, visitation or contact with the child, or restricted in custody, visitation or contact based solely on that belief or the reasonable actions taken based on that belief.

     b.    Any person who knowingly files or causes to be filed a report of a false allegation of child abuse or neglect, as determined by the Division of Youth and Family Services, with the purpose to influence a child custody proceeding is a disorderly person.

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill provides that, in cases involving custody of a child, a parent who makes a good faith allegation based on a reasonable belief supported by facts that the child is the victim of child abuse and acts lawfully and in good faith in response to that reasonable belief to protect the child or seek treatment for the child would not be deprived of custody, visitation or contact with the child, or restricted in custody, visitation or contact based solely on that belief or the reasonable actions taken based on that belief.

     This bill makes it a disorderly persons offense when a person knowingly files or causes to be filed a report of a false allegation of child abuse or neglect, as determined by the Division of Youth and Family Services, with the purpose to influence a child custody proceeding.  A disorderly persons offense is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

     This bill is modeled, in part, after a New York law, 2008 N.Y. ALS 538, which was enacted into law on September 4, 2008.  A similar Tennessee law was enacted into law on May 28, 2004.  Like the New York and Tennessee laws, this bill is intended to protect parents from being penalized in custody cases for making good faith efforts to protect their child from abuse.

     However, the bill goes one step further by criminalizing the behavior of those who would use bad faith reports of child abuse or neglect to influence child custody proceedings.