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Children conceived by rape and child custody laws

Texas residents may be shocked to learn that a man who rapes a woman, causing her to become pregnant, may later try to seek child custody and visitation rights. While this may seem to unduly punish female victims of rape who choose to carry their children to term, Texas law does provide a method through which women may seek to terminate the man's parental rights in this type of situation.

The problem of rapists seeking parental rights is a national one. There is a patchwork of laws across the states regarding fathers' rights to visitation and custody of children conceived through rape. In several states, female rape victims have no protection when there children were conceived in such a way.

However, under Texas Family Code Section 161.007, women who have been raped and who have then carried their children to term do have a method to seek the termination of the perpetrator's parental rights. In order to do so, the woman must file a motion with the family court seeking the termination. They must then prove to the court through clear and convincing evidence that their child was conceived due to the perpetrator's raping them. If successful, the court will then terminate the rapist's rights.

It seems cruel to make a rape victim have to go through such a process simply to avoid her rapist's being able to enjoy parental rights. Thankfully, Texas does have some protections built into its law, but a motion must still be filed and argued. Rape victims must still be prepared to present evidence clearly demonstrating that their child was conceived through rape. A family law attorney may often provide assistance to a mother in this regard.

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