Rape Survivors & Parental Rights
For a number of women every year, worries over their rapists gaining parental rights is a very real nightmare. According to some statistics, the estimated number of rape-related pregnancies in the U.S. is between 8,000 and 32,000. For these women, concerns over how to protect their children plague them every day. This is because many judges are reluctant to restrict parental custody, and a number presume that both parents are capable.
While, in 2015, the federal Rape Survivor Child Custody Act provided financial incentives to states to pass laws terminating parental rights in the presence of clear and convincing evidence, still, only 30 states allow termination of parental rights of rapists, while others just have restrictions in place, and many still require a sexual assault conviction first.
The Law in Florida
Fortunately, in 2013, Florida passed a law that allows rape survivors to terminate the parental rights of their rapists if the court finds that the child was conceived through sexual assault or battery by clear and convincing evidence. This is connected to Florida’s existing laws regarding what is in the best interests of the child. Rape victims often argue that the following must be taken into account in making this determination: trauma, counseling, therapy records, medical records, and witness testimony.
Specifically, in Florida:
- The state allows for the termination or limitation of parental rights when a child is born from rape;
- It does not require a conviction for a sexual offense first to terminate or limit these parental rights;
- This applies not only to custody, but also visitation;
- In addition, a convicted rapist parent must also register as a sexual predator;
- In order to terminate or limit these rights, the victim must petition the court (note that there are no time limits on this); where
- Any clear and convincing evidence to demonstrate that sexual battery occurred counts as proof, where a guilty plea or conviction of unlawful sexual battery is conclusive proof that the child was conceived in violation of the law.
Note that, in Florida, sexual battery is defined as anal, oral, or vaginal penetration by or union with the sexual organ of another or involving another object and statutory rape involves sexual penetration of a youth, where consent is irrelevant, and sexual battery is committed on someone under 12 years of age or, if the defendant is 24 years old or older and engages in sexual activity with someone who is 16 or 17 years old.
Contact Our Florida Child Custody & Parenting Plan Attorney
If you have any questions or concerns about child custody here in Florida, contact our West Palm Beach child custody and parenting plan attorney at the office of William Wallshein, P.A. today. With more than 30 years of experience helping people, and having a background in both criminal and family law, we are prepared to help parents and their families feel safe and secure when it comes to child custody concerns.