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Florida lawmakers approve denying child custody rights to rapists

When a judge in Sarasota is asked to make the decision of which parent or guardian should have legal custody of a child, that judge needs to think about what is in the best interests of the child in question. While it would be hoped that every child comes from a loving home and parents only want what is best for that child, such is not the case in every child custody dispute. In some cases, a parent may be found to have exposed the child to an environment that is unsafe or unhealthy, or the parent simply may not be able to properly care for the child. In other instances, one parent may use a child custody issue to retain their control over the other.

In an effort to protect the victims of sexual crimes, many states have passed legislation to prevent convicted sex offenders from having any claim on a child conceived from their crime. Now Florida stands poised to join those states as lawmakers recently gave their approval for a similar law. If Gov. Scott signs the bill into law, those convicted of incest, sexual assault, sexual battery, or rape will have no parental rights.

While it is highly unlikely that any court would be induced to grant any form of custody to a person found guilty of such a crime, having a law like this in place would protect sexual assault victims from finding themselves drawn into a child custody dispute with their rapist. Each child custody case is different and so it may be a good idea for a parent to obtain legal counsel in order to make sure their rights are protected.

Source: The Tampa Tribune, “Florida bill will prevent rapists having custody of kids,” April 30, 2013

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