What Kind of Timesharing Rights and Child Support Obligations Do Rapists & Their Victims Face?
A concern that we sometimes hear in the field of family law is how child custody or timesharing and support work when the child is the product of rape. Specifically, concern has been expressed regarding whether a rapist may sue for timesharing rights, and whether a victim can sue the rapist for child support.
Ultimately, while many states (including Florida) have laws that allow the victim to terminate parental rights if the child was conceived by rape, no state or federal law restricts a rape victim from seeking child support from a rapist. Below, we discuss this in greater detail:
“Paternity Cooperation Requirements”
Conditions with respect to the burden of proof placed on rape victims in child support cases are known as “paternity cooperation requirements,” and depend upon state law. While most states allow sworn statements of third parties with knowledge of the circumstances leading to good cause to substantiate a claim, several put forth a more restrictive standard, requiring too much documentation from the rape victim to substantiate what happened.
Still, if there wasn’t a conviction in a rape victim’s case (even after she both reported it and it was prosecuted), she could still be vulnerable to having to face her attacker. Fortunately, Florida is not one of the states that requires a conviction to block parental rights; in fact, Florida courts may terminate parental rights if there’s “clear and convincing evidence” that the parent conceived the child through rape.
However, some states may not apply the needed parental rights laws if the person convicted of sexual assault is the spouse of the victim at the time of the assault and/or if they were cohabiting at the time. Florida law does not get into this level of detail, but simply states that evidence of sexual violence will be taken into account in determining the best interest of the child.
How Do We Get Rape Victims The Support They Need?
There are a number of concerns associated with rape victims having to repeatedly face and/or maintain a relationship with their attacker in an effort to obtain child support, which raises a number of additional issues, such as whether this could subject the mother and child to subsequent attacks or violence. Some have commented that, as a result, instead of the system placing the onus on rape victims in seeking child support in family court, convicted rapists should be forced to pay restitution in criminal court, which then is put towards child support.
Florida Timesharing & Child Support Attorneys
If you have any timesharing and/or child support concerns, contact our experienced, compassionate family law attorneys at the Arwani Law Firm, PLLC to find out how we can help and ensure that you are supported in your and your child’s best interests. We serve clients in Orlando, Florida, and surrounding areas.