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States give rapists right to sue for custody of conceived child

It is almost hard to believe that 31 of our 50 states, including Texas, allow rapists to sue for child custody or visitation of a child conceived during their criminal act. A victim of a crime should have rights beyond that of their offender and should be protected from them. Unfortunately, it may take legal action on the part of the victim to ensure this is so. Remember that you can fight for your rights, and there are family law appeals that can be filed in cases where you feel your rights are being violated.

In one particular Massachusetts's case, a court made it mandatory that a rapist be involved in his victim and child's life. In 2009, a 14-year-old teen was raped by a 20-year-old and impregnated as a result. The rapist pleaded guilty to his crime in 2011 and was sentenced with probation for 16 years. His probation included a directive that he must start proceedings in family court regarding the conceived child, and then comply with the court orders until the child was an adult.

While it might sound like the court was just trying to make the man responsible for his actions, they left little thought to the victim, who now would be tied to an involvement with her rapist for the next 18 years. The victim and her mother both opposed this part of his sentence and let officials know.

The man, as instructed, initiated family court proceedings, and was ordered by the court to pay $110 a week in child support in 2010. To be free of the child support obligation, the man used the child as a bargaining tool. He decided to seek visitation of the child "unless" the child support order was dropped.

The victim, not wanting her assailant to be in her life or the life of her child's, requested that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts change the man's child support order to criminal restitution. That request was refused, with the court stating she didn't have "standing to challenge" the order. She has filed a suit to fight for her rights. In her lawsuit, she is requesting that the state court order unlawfully imposes on her liberties and also makes her responsible for her assailant's compliance with his terms of probation.

Source: slate.com, "A Spectacularly Awful Week in Rape" Dahlia Lithwick, Aug. 29, 2013

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