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Federal lawmakers introduce Rape Survivor Child Custody Act

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Federal lawmakers have turned their attention to child custody rights. That attention has turned into the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, which would provide financial incentives for states like Illinois to pass laws that would help Illinois mothers terminate the parental rights of their rapists.

That may sound like common sense, but the situation arises often. In fact, every year close to 11,000 women decide to give birth to a child conceived through rape. When they do, many rapists file for child custody as a bargaining chip: women can either drop the charges against their rapists or face a long custody battle and the emotional nightmare that comes with regularly seeing and even sharing custody with someone who raped them.

But while it is hard to argue about reasonableness of not subjecting mothers to the prospect of having to share child custody with their rapist for 18 years, not everyone is on board with the new bill. Critics suggest that many cases are not nearly so clear-cut. For these critics, fashioning a law in response to a few tragic situations often makes for bad law. They worry it will become a bludgeon against fathers in ambiguous situations. They also note that the bill is probably not necessary since judges already have the power to strip unfit fathers of custody and visitation rights.

For the moment, the bill is just that, a bill. In the meantime, Illinois mothers seeking child custody may benefit from speaking to an experienced family law attorney. An experienced family law attorney can explain the legal process, the steps Illinois mothers need to take to get child custody and the likely outcome of the case.

Source: Opposing Views, "Rape Survivor Child Custody Act Introduced in House, Aims To Strip Rapists Of Child Custody Rights," Jonathan Wolfe, July 26, 2013

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