A bill that has passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would make it harder for those who became fathers through rape to have custody or visitation rights to their children. The bill would also enable the mother of a child conceived through rape to ask for financial assistance from the father without granting any further rights to that child. Under current law, a parent is unable to get child support if other parental rights have been terminated.
Under state law, if a parent is convicted of rape, that could be used as a basis to deny the custodial or other parental rights of that parent. While the best interest of a child are always taken into consideration when making a child custody decision, it was not until January of 2011 when it officially became part of the process of determining whether or not a parent could provide a safe environment for a child.
The bill will now have to be approved by the Senate in Pennsylvania before it can then be signed into law. In addition to the bill being passed in the state, there is a federal version of the bill that would make it significantly harder for rapists to gain custody or visitation rights to the children that they conceived.
There are many reasons why a parent may be granted or denied child custody or other parental rights. In the case of conception through rape, a judge may deny custody because it would not be in the best interest of the child to do so. Anyone who wishes to gain sole custody of their child may want to speak to a family law attorney who may be able to review the facts in a given case to help that person potentially have his or her request granted.
Source: RH Reality Check, "Pennsylvania Tightens Loophole in Rapist-Fathers’ Rights Law", Tara Murtha, June 20, 2014