After learning of a Missouri child custody lawsuit against a woman by the man who allegedly raped her, the Utah Senate voted March 13 to pass a bill that would disallow such claims in that state. While such lawsuits are still allowed in Missouri, Utah will no longer allow rapists to sue for child custody if the child was the product of the attack, nor will they be allowed to obtain visitation with such children.
The bill was written after legislators heard of the Missouri case, in which the woman became pregnant after she was allegedly raped. The rapist later served her with a lawsuit demanding custody of the child that was born as a result of the sexual assault. This case sparked outrage among Utah’s legislators when they realized that their own laws could also permit such a situation.
While the Utah bill would require rapists to pay child support, they would not have any other parental rights. It remains to be seen if other states will adopt similar legislation. While most people understand the emotional and safety issues involved with allowing rapists to have custody of children, this law may be seen as a violation of constitutional rights since rapists are still required to pay child support.
Parents who are raising children may be entitled to payments of child support from the non-custodial spouse. If a parent has been ordered to pay child support by a court and is not meeting financial obligations, a family law attorney may be able to assist the custodial parent in finding ways to collect the child support payments.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, “Bill to prevent parental rights for rapists passes,” Lee Davidson, March 18, 2013