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Rape and child custody rights in California

In 15 states across the nation, the law provides no support to a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape. This means that she may have to share custody with the child's father, consult with him when making decisions about the child or even ask him for permission to put the child up or adoption. In many of the other 35 states, including California, a man may need to be convicted before his parental rights are terminated.

In some cases, the father may manipulate the law for his own benefit. For instance, one man agreed to allow a woman to put their baby to be put up for adoption if she didn't testify at his rape trial. In another instance, a man who impregnated a 14-year-old girl agreed to drop his right to visitation if he no longer had to pay child support.

In cases such as these, a woman may be intimated, harassed or otherwise unable to recover from her rape because of the father's involvement with the child. While it is often legal to terminate a pregnancy that occurs because of rape, a woman's moral or ethical belies may prevent her from doing so. For some, carrying and raising the baby may be seen a sign of strength.

Whenever a parent is in the midst of a child custody dispute, it may be worthwhile to talk to an attorney who has experience in family law matters. In cases where a mother has given birth to a child after being raped but has not pressed criminal charges, legal counsel might argue in a custody hearing that granting the father parental rights would not be in the child's best interests.

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