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Custody and visitation with special circumstances

As some Pennsylvania residents know, rape victims are sometimes forced to interact with their rapists if a child is conceived during the rape. This is due in part to an absence of rules that regulate such interaction in about 15 states. Others do so, leaving the woman open to interaction with the child's father. This failure to adequately protect the mother and child has been recently addressed by Congress.

Two cases illustrate some problems associated with rape and the claim to father's rights. One involved a woman from North Carolina who was raped, became pregnant and carried her baby to term. The mother decided to place the child up for adoption. To do so, she needed the father's permission. The father, jailed and awaiting trial in the rape case, agreed on adoption if the mother agreed not to testify against him in court. In another case, a minor was raped. The rapist pleaded guilty and was placed on probation instead of jail. He was ordered to support the child. Afterward, the father of the child asked for visitation, but agreed to forego visits if the child support payments were canceled.

About 35 states permit a rapist's rights as a parent to be ended. However, most require a conviction to do so. Since many rapes go unreported, the possibility of terminating a father's rights is unlikely. This year, an act was passed in Congress granting funding to states passing laws to terminate parental rights for men who are shown to have raped the mother by convincing and clear evidence.

If a mother was raped, having an attorney's help in family court may be beneficial in deciding child custody and visitation issues. Eliminating the rapist's parental rights over the child may be helped by the guidance an attorney may provide.

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