Florida bill would deny child custody rights to rapists

Recently the Florida State Senate Criminal Justice committee unanimously approved a bill which precludes a convicted rapist from having any child custody rights with respect to a child conceived as the result of rape or any act of sexual battery. All parental rights, such as visitation and custody rights, would be cut off.

Florida is not the first state to have approved such a bill. Nearly 19 states have similar laws terminating parental rights when a child is born as the result of an incestuous act or sexual assault. In fact, a federal appeals court noted that the Constitution of the United States does not prohibit states from penalizing a father for his illicit conduct by not granting the man parental rights.

Any act of sexual assault is a violent crime. Where a man is convicted of rape, terminating his parental rights over the child conceived as result of the rape serves the best interests of the child. Termination of parental rights refers to the statutory end of a legal parent-child relationship such as the person's right to visitation with the child, parenting time and child custody rights.

Parental rights may be terminated voluntarily or involuntarily. An example of voluntary termination of rights is when birth parents choose to give up their parental rights by placing their child up for adoption. Involuntary termination happens by an order from the court. Grounds for involuntary termination include factors such as neglect of the child, chronic alcohol and drug issues, long-term mental illness, abandonment, failure to support and maintain contact with the child and involuntary termination of parental rights over another child. Termination of parental rights is drastic step but in some cases it is necessary to protect the well-being of the child.

Source: CBS Miami, "Bill Would Prohibit Rapist From Having Custody Rights of Child," April 2, 2013

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