Rape victims face complicated child custody issues
Sexual assault and rape are an unfortunate reality in our country, and some put estimates of rape-related pregnancies in the United States as high as 25,000 to 32,000 a year. For women who choose to keep and raise these children, understanding how custody works and what happens if the attacker wants to be involved in the child’s life can be confusing. While the state of Texas does provide some protection for women who have children resulting from a rape, it’s important to be informed on exactly what the rights and protections are.
In general, women who have conceived from a sexual attack are able to request that the attackers parental rights be terminated. To do this, the courts used to require the woman to show proof that the father was convicted of rape and proof that the child was indeed a result of the rape. Once this evidence was produced, the woman would be able to request the termination of parental rights.
However, in many cases, women do not want to let the attacker know that the assault resulted in a child, which would make requesting the attacker take a DNA test out of the question. Many rapists are also never convicted due to lack of evidence or the rape not being reported at all, which means many women may not be able to fulfill the proof of conviction requirement.
While legislation continues to be introduced into the house to help protect women who become pregnant after a rape, the law is still largely open to interpretation if the attacker would petition for custody or visitation rights. Women who have questions about how to go about requesting termination of the other party’s parental rights should talk with a family law attorney in Texas.
Source: Times Record News, “Texas rape victims may be vulnerable to attacker filing for child custody,” Alyssa Johnston, accessed March 18, 2016