Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Proposed law bans rapists from obtaining child custody

Rape is one of the most reviled acts that a person can commit in the United States. The act is such that the victim of the crime is likely to remember it for the rest of their lives. When the act results in the birth of a child the victim, a woman in most cases, could be potentially tied to her attacker through a court-ordered child custody arrangement. Besides placing the child in potentially dangerous environment, this can result in continued harassment of a woman at the hands of her attacker.

Lawmakers in Utah have introduced a bill that would bar convicted rapists from being able to gain custody of children produced through rape. The bill was introduced by a congressman in response to a case of an out-of- state woman who was served child custody papers by her rapist, who was seeking custody of the child he fathered. After realizing the same situation could happen in his state, the legislator took action and created the proposed bill, which was unanimously approved by the state Senate.

Until the Governor signs the bill, though, under current Utah law a rapist has the ability to obtain parenting time and visitation rights with children conceived via rape. The proposed law would sever the rapist's ability to seek child custody, but would still make them responsible for child support. Utah's law follows in the footsteps of around a dozen other states with similar laws.

If signed, the new law could alleviate the fears of many women. It is reported that one in three Utah women experiences some form of sexual assault in her lifetime. If a child custody dispute results from such an experience, an experienced family law attorney can prove crucial in helping right a tremendous wrong.

Source: News Times, "Utah bill would bar rapists from child custody," Annie Knox (AP), March 13, 2013

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