According to PubMed.gov, there are more than 32,000 pregnancies in the United States each year that are the result of rape, and of these pregnancies approximately one-third of the victims choose to keep and raise the child. However, an alarming number of these mothers have reported that their rapists have used the resulting pregnancy to further abuse and harass them by seeking custody of the child. In order to combat this type of harassment, Governor Snyder signed the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act into law earlier this year.
The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act
Before the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act was passed, a parent in Michigan whose child was conceived as a result of a sexual assault had to secure a conviction in order to terminate their attacker’s parental rights over the child. For example, if a woman became pregnant as a result of being raped and decided to keep and raise the baby, her attacker would need to be convicted of rape by a court of law before the mother would be able to legally terminate the rapist’s parental rights. At first glance this law may seem reasonable as terminating someone’s parental rights is a rather serious order. However, it is important to consider how difficult it can be to obtain a rape conviction as the prosecution in a rape case is required to prove that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Beyond a reasonable doubt is the evidentiary standard that is used in criminal cases, and it essentially requires the prosecution to show that no other logical explanation can explain the facts of the case except that the defendant committed the crime.
The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act makes it easier to terminate an accused sexual attacker’s parental rights by lowering the evidentiary standard for child custody hearings to “clear and convincing evidence”. In other words, the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act enables a sexually assaulted parent in Michigan to terminate their attacker’s parental rights if they are able to show by clear and convincing evidence that their baby was conceived due to a sexual assault perpetrated by the child’s other parent. Therefore, under this new law the attacked parent can have the attacker parent’s parental rights terminated without a rape conviction.
Need Legal Advice?
If you live in Michigan and have questions about child custody and your legal rights, contact The Legal Offices of Michael A. Robbins to schedule a confidential consultation. Attorney Michael A. Robbins has over thirty years of experience practicing law in Michigan exclusively in the area of divorce and family law and would be happy to put his expertise to work for you. Contact our Bloomfield Hills office today at (248) 646-7980.