New Pennsylvania Bill Would Force Rapists to Pay Child Support
Under current Pennsylvania law, a woman who has a child from rape can ask a judge to end the rapist father’s parental rights. This means that the father who committed the rape will not have custody or visitation rights. However, women who end the rapist father’s parent rights also surrender their ability to collect child support from the father. According to a news report in The Express-Times, a new bill has been proposed to allow a mother to end parental rights while still collecting support.
Democratic State Representative Mike Schlossberg proposed the bill that would close this loophole. It was vetted by the House Judiciary Committee last year and has recently been folded into another bill that is currently in the House. It is now part of the larger legislation regarding the termination of parental rights for sexual offenders.
Unless this bill goes through, mothers who have been raped and need child support have to make some difficult decisions. Should they accept the support and allow the father access to their children, or deny the rapist parental rights and try to survive without financial support? This pressing issue is particularly challenging for low-income mothers who rely on financial support to raise their children.
The laws regarding parental rights for rapists and sex offenders vary by state. Currently, 26 states allow rape victims to place their children up for adoption without the father’s consent. However, 31 states have no laws currently in place to allow mothers to terminate the father’s parental rights if the victim keeps the child. Pennsylvania is one of only 13 states that have laws allowing mothers to terminate a rapist father’s parental rights. Six other states allow mothers to limit a rapist father’s visitation and custody rights.
Clearly, lawmakers can have a significant impact on the lives of Pennsylvania families. Staying abreast of the changing laws can prove difficult. If you have questions about parental rights and child support, do not hesitate to seek legal guidance. There are Pennsylvania family law attorneys who dedicate their lives to helping parents and children get the support and guidance they need.