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Bill will make it easier for rape victims to pursue child support

The Pennsylvania House is working on a bill that will make it easier for mothers to pursue child support from rapist fathers.

Current loophole forces victims to choose between support and father's parental rights

A bill that will allow mothers to more easily seek child support for children that were conceived as a result of rape is making its way through the House, reports WFMZ-TV 69 News. The bill, if it becomes law, will close a legal loophole that currently forces rape victims to choose between pursuing child support and terminating the parental rights of the father. The bill was added as an amendment to a more general bill.

Bill passed unanimously

The bill containing the amendment was recently passed unanimously by the House. The key amendment would require fathers of children who were conceived through rape or incest to still pay child support even if their parental rights had been terminated.

Under current law, mothers of children conceived through rape or incest were faced with a difficult decision. They could terminate the parental rights of the father, but if they did so the father would no longer be obligated to pay child support. The original bill was H.B. 836, but that was later added as an amendment to H.B. 945, a bill that more generally deals with the termination of parental rights of sexual offenders.

An impossible choice

State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, who sponsored the original bill, says that forcing mothers to make a choice between a rapist's parental rights and child support is unfair and particularly affects low-income households, according to the Express-Times. Pennsylvania is one of thirteen states that allow mothers to terminate the parental rights of a rapist father.

Surprisingly, 31 states do not have laws that allow mothers to terminate the rights of such fathers if the mother chooses to keep the child. However, 26 states do allow mothers to place a child who was conceived through rape up for adoption without first seeking the consent of the father. In addition to the 13 states that allow for the termination of a rapist father's parental rights, six others place restrictions on the father's visitation and custody rights.

Family law issues

While the above bill is to be lauded for protecting the rights of rape victims seeking child support, the truth is that family law issues can affect almost anyone. The bill described above shows how even small discrepancies in the law can lead to major consequences for families.

Anyone who is currently trying to resolve a family law issue, including child support and custody, should talk to an experienced family law attorney. Because of the complex and constantly evolving nature of family law, parents and spouses will want all the legal help they can get in order to make informed decisions for their families.

Keywords: Child support, Pennsylvania, rape victim

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