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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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Restrictions on parental rights for convicted rapists

Unfortunately, in Frisco and other cities all across the nation, sexual assaults occur regularly. Rape can sometimes lead to an unplanned pregnancy. In those situations, the victim has numerous difficult decisions, like whether to go through with the pregnancy or to have it terminated, as well as whether to keep the child or to put him or her up for adoption. As if those decisions are not difficult enough, in some states mothers could have to fight their abuser to prevent them from pursuing their parental rights or even child custody.

One state is following in the footsteps of a number of other states by passing a bill that would terminate a father’s parental rights if the child were born of a sexual assault or incestuous relationship. The bill is awaiting approval from the state’s governor following approval in both the state’s House of Representatives and Senate. There are, at minimum, 19 other states that have similar laws in place.

Previously even a convicted rapist could seek custody rights of a child conceived through the rape. For women in these types of situations, the continued interaction could be seen as continuing the abuse. Under the new law, if a father is convicted of rape, his rights to the child that was conceived through that assault can be revoked. It was not reported whether or not mothers could seek child support payments from father’s whose parental rights are terminated under such circumstances.

It may be beneficial for anyone involved in a child custody dispute to seek the advice of an attorney. Having legal representation can help you navigate the legal process and look out for your interests, as well as those of your child. 

Source: The Republic, “Bill passes that prevents convicted rapists from having parental rights if rape causes birth”, April 30, 2013