Child custody extends to accused rapists in some states


For some divorced or unmarried parents, facing the other parent to resolve custody issues can be an uncomfortable or taxing experience. If there is tension between the two, attempting to resolve conflicts might turn into battles that may end in the courtroom. For those mothers who conceived their children through sexual assault, the thought of sharing child custody with their assailants may be far-fetched. Nevertheless, very few states have adequate laws to protect women from this situation.

Most states have at least some legislation regarding custody of a child conceived during a sexual assault. However, states like Nevada require a rape conviction for a person to be denied custody of that child. This creates a challenge because the Bureau of Justice reports that just over a third of the 300,000 assault victims nationwide report their attacks to police.

Whether or not a woman files a report, there is only a 12 percent likelihood of an arrest. Since a conviction is needed to deny custody in Nevada, the chances are good that the victim will be fighting over her children in court. Twenty other states deny custody of a child conceived from rape only if the alleged attacker is convicted of the crime.

Several states have been attempting to rectify the gaps in the laws which provide a path for accused rapists to seek parental rights. While states work to improve the situation for assault victims and their children, for now, many are forced to contend with their alleged attackers for child custody or visitation privileges. Many find it helpful to have the advice and guidance of a lawyer when dealing with these circumstances.

Source:, "Where rapists can gain parental rights", Breeanna Hare & Lisa Rose, Nov. 17, 2016

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