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Understanding child custody laws in cases of rape

In the state of Texas, a woman needs to prove that she was raped, that her child was conceived because of rape and make a formal request to have custody rights for her attacker to be terminated. Unless all of those things are presented to a judge, the father of the child could still sue for child custody and other parental rights.

While some believe that there should be no way for a person who rapes a woman should have any contact with the resulting child, a judge may feel that it is in the best interest of the child to know his or her father regardless of how the child was conceived. However, it could be argued that forcing a rape victim to confront her attacker and relive the situation in a family law court could be traumatizing.

A bill that has received bipartisan support in Congress would make it illegal for a rapist to have any contact with a child that is conceived as a result of the rape. It is estimated that each year, 25,000 to 32,000 children are born each year who were conceived due to rape. The bill was sent to committee in July of 2013 and is called the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act.

Although it may seem logical that a rapist should not have the right to see his child, the law always takes the best interest of the child into consideration. However, it is possible for a woman who wants to terminate the parental rights of her rapist to ask the court to do so. Consulting with a family law attorney may make the process of doing so faster and easier for an individual who wants sole custody of her children.

Source: TimesRecordNews, "Texas rape victims may be vulnerable to attacker filing for child custody", Alyssa Johnston, June 27, 2014

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