The law in Pennsylvania says that if a woman becomes pregnant through sexual assault or rape and chooses to keep the child, she can also apply to terminate her rapist’s parental rights over the child. In essence, what this means is that she can be granted sole custody of the child and prevent the rapist from ever seeing the child. For most people in the state, this law makes sense, as a woman should not have to continuously see the man who raped her.
The law came with a price, however, a literal one. If a woman were to exercise her right to terminate her child’s father’s rights, she could not also receive child support from him. For most women, this would be a difficult choice to make.
Pennsylvania legislators are hoping to close that loophole, however. A bill has been proposed that would require rapists to continue to pay child support, but would still allow mothers to deny them access to the children they fathered. The bill has moved out of the House Judiciary Committee and joined another bill as an amendment and will appear before the whole House.
This is just one of the multitude of complexities regarding child support and custody. Many of us think of it as a relatively straight-forward, cut-and-dry process, but each individual case is unique. This also means that it is particularly difficult to find standard advice on what to do when asserting one’s rights to child custody or support. What it typically means is that it is often best to work with a family law attorney.
Source: The Express-Times, “Pennsylvania bill regarding rapist’s parental rights, child support moves forward,” Colin McEvoy, June 11, 2014