WomensLaw Reports Some States Addressing Sexual Assault and Custody through Legislation
April 28, 2015
Laws and court procedures can be difficult to comprehend under the best of circumstances. When the stakes are particularly high, survivors of violence are often alone in trying to make sense of the law and protect themselves and their children.
Through WomensLaw.org, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) provides “plain language,” state-specific information in English and Spanish related to domestic violence, family law, immigration, and many other topics. Our goal is to provide survivors with helpful legal information and resources in a way that is understandable to the non-lawyer. In order to provide the most up-to-date information possible, we monitor the legislative changes in 54 states and U.S. territories, so that we can update or expand the information on our website to reflect any new or changed laws.
One legislative proposal that WomensLaw has noticed showing up in many states addresses the custody rights regarding a child who was conceived as a result of rape. Many states’ legislatures are creating laws to specifically restrict or deny any parental rights to a man who has raped a woman and a child was conceived as a result of the rape. Sexual assault is traumatizing; it is unconscionable that courts could force victims to remain in constant contact with the rapist for visitation exchanges.
Over the past couple of years, laws have been passed or amended in North Carolina, Montana, Washington, DC, Colorado, and Arkansas (among other states) to allow for a rapist’s parental rights to be terminated or greatly restricted. NNEDV applauds these measures; we hope to see similar laws passed in many other states over the coming years to protect survivors of rape and their children.