GREENVILLE, South Carolina. In general, the law is clear when it comes to matters of child custody. Court decisions are made in the child’s best interest. This standard, that some critics claim is somewhat vague, gives judges wide discretion in making decisions to protect a child’s emotional, mental, and physical health. In general, the courts favor both parents enjoying custody and the right to parent their children. Only in the most extreme circumstances are a parent’s rights brought into question. One of those circumstances is rape.
According to USA Today, a rapist was granted joint custody of a child resulting from his rape of a woman who had been a minor at the time of the rape. How can this happen? The mother was required to fill out a standardized form in order to seek welfare for her and her child. The form required the mother to answer a paternity questionnaire in which she was required to name the father. At no point did the form give her the opportunity to express concerns about the father going through traditional paternity procedures. In most states, before a mother can receive welfare, she must seek paternity in order to seek child support from the father. The state then fills in the gaps the father cannot meet. However, in the cases of rape, paternity can create problems for the mother, re-open old wounds, and put the child at risk. The father of the child was charged with assault on the child’s mother when she was only 12 years old. According to the Miami Herald, the man, as a registered sex offender, is required to have supervision whenever he is around a minor child.
Because the court awarded the father joint custody of the child, the mother faces many challenges. Though she lives in Florida, she was told she would need to move to Michigan where the rapist lives. Under the joint custody ruling, the father would be granted visitation rights with the child.
Many states have laws limiting the parental rights of men who conceive children through rape. However, loopholes in the law create situations where mothers may find themselves in the horrifying scenario of having to share joint custody with their abusers.
Child custody lawyers, like The Law Offices of Linda C. Hayes in Greenville, South Carolina understand that though child custody laws protect the rights of both parents, those rights do have their limits. For example, a parent charged with abuse, drug use, or a crime may be limited in terms of visitation rights or may be required to visit the children under supervision. If you are in a situation where you fear for the safety of your children, it is important to protect your rights. Linda C. Hayes is a child custody attorney in Greenville, South Carolina who works closely with parents who are concerned for their children’s safety during a child custody battle. If you are seeking divorce due to domestic violence or because your ex committed a crime, visit http://www.lindahayeslaw.com/ to learn more about your options and rights.