In seventeen states and Washington, D.C., there is no law that explicitly restricts the parental rights of men that have children through rape. This has created quite a legal issue as seen in the case below.
Case of Parental Rights for Rapist
One of the cases occurred in Massachusetts where a 14-year-old girl was raped and impregnated by a 20-year-old male, Jaime Melendez, in 2009. In 2011, the male pleaded guilty to rape and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
In 2012, family court ordered Melendez to pay child support until the child was an adult. The past two years have resulted in a lawsuit where Melendez has demanded to have visitation rights of the child or he will cease to pay child support. Massachusetts is one of the states that does not restrict parental rights of rapists and they are able to petition for custody and/or visiting rights.
Rape in the United States
An estimated 250,000 to 300,000 women are pregnant as a result of rape each year. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 12% of rapes result in arrest and conviction. It can be very difficult to prove if rape was committed.
Being convicted of a felony, like rape, can result in revocation of parental rights but it is depended upon the state’s laws and judges to determine this. In addition, judges look at what the best interests of the child are to determine custody and visitation rights. There are eight states that have made legal the end of parental rights if there is “clear and convincing” evidence that the mother was raped and two states have bills that address the issue.
Arizona Laws about Child Custody
Child custody in Arizona is determined by the family law courts.
While there are no explicit laws in Arizona that make it illegal for rapists to have child custody, the courts determine the custody based on a parent’s history of abusive and unstable behavior, the relationship of the parents, and misconduct of parents. Thus, if rape is proven, then the courts would factor this into their decision of child custody.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.
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