Law Offices of Susan Millican O'Brian & Associates, P.S. Law Offices of Susan Millican O'Brian & Associates, P.S.

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Washington learns of child custody laws for rape victims

Rape is a horrific crime that affects too many women in Washington and across the nation. In fact, one recent statistic shows that as many as 12 percent of all women in our country report that they have been the victim of such crimes. Of these, 4.7 percent become pregnant from the rape. These women may be surprised to learn that they could become involved in a child custody matter as a result of the incident.

Statistics reveal that 25,000 to 32,000 women become pregnant from rape annually. Some of these women face child custody challenges when their perpetrator attempts to gain parental control of a child born from rape. Now one state is seeking to make changes to the law to end this practice and stop those convicted of first degree rape from obtaining child custody.

The proposed law, would, if passed, only apply to those who are convicted of first degree rape. Those convicted of lesser degrees or rape or incest may be added as the legislative process proceeds. If the legislation passes, it could affect many child support decisions in the state where it has been proposed.

Readers in Washington may be surprised to learn that our state is one of the 34 that has laws allowing those accused of rape to seek child custody. Though it is not clear how common such matters are in our state, it is possible for rape victims to face their attackers in a family court. Many in our state and elsewhere may be watching the new proposed law. If it passes, it is possible that similar laws could be passed in other states.

Source:, "Rapists Couldn't Seek Child Custody from Victims Under Kentucky House Bill," Rae Hodge, Feb. 5, 2013

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