Determining parental rights in any case can be complex, but what if those involved are guilty of sexual assault? A topic under scrutiny in today’s world is that of parental rights of rapists — seven states in the country have no laws keeping rapists from seeing their children. Yet what is the outlook on this controversial law, and will Indiana see major changes in the future?
CNN weighed in on the complicated issue of parental rights for those guilty of rape in an article last November, acknowledging that the laws surrounding the topic are slow and difficult. For instance, Maryland has been working on a law that allows for victims to terminate their attackers’ rights, but the law’s progress has taken years. Other states that have intervened on these situations have only done so in the past year or two; many of these states require that a person is convicted of rape before any action against parental rights can take place. And as with most laws, the details of this requirement vary from state to state. Some states refuse to apply these parental rights laws if the rape took place when the victim was married to the attacker. CNN adds that, in some areas, time is of the essence: Indiana law holds that a victim must petition to have her attacker’s parental rights terminated less than three months after the child’s birth. The only exception for this regulation is if the victim is under the age of 18.
The National Conference of State Legislatures outlines further details in Indiana’s parental rights and sexual assault laws. As of April 2017, lawmakers are reconsidering custody rights in situations of sexual assault; some states contain multiple statutes addressing the issue. As for Indiana, the NCSL clarifies that termination of parental rights require clear and convincing evidence. The evidence must be clear that the perpetrator committed the act of rape against the victim and that a child was conceived as a result of the act.