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Rape victim could share child custody in Texas

According to The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, or RAINN, 237,868 people are raped every year, with 60 percent of the rapes going unreported, and 97 percent of rapists spending no time in jail. Some of these instances of rape result in pregnancy. The mother has two options in the case of pregnancy after rape, either to abort the child or continue with the pregnancy. In Texas, a woman may be unaware that under Texas law, her attacker could sue for parental rights.

The Texas family code gives protection to a woman who conceives as a result of rape. It gives her the option to terminate the pregnancy. However, it does not specify enough about what happens if she keeps the child. This allows for a judge's discretion in determining whether to grant custody or visitation rights to her attacker.

This means that the judge could determine that it is in the best interests of the child to have interaction with the father. The law also specifies that a rape victim is not shielded from a custody battle unless the attacker is proven a rapist in a court of law. However, as mentioned earlier, almost all rapes go without conviction or jail time. Legal loopholes are present in other states as well that would allow an attacker to possibly pursue custody rights.

Most people would think that if a child was conceived due to an act of rape, that there is no way the attacker would have any legal custody rights. However, due to legal loopholes in custody laws and rape legislation, this is not the case. Depending on the case, a judge could determine that it may be in the best interests of the child to have both parents in the child's life.

Source: Times Record News, "Texas rape victims may be vulnerable to attacker filing for child custody," Alyssa Johnston, June 27, 2014

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