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Making The Complex Understandable

Rapist given joint child custody in unusual case

Most custody cases that come before Louisiana courts involve predictable parties and arguments. Two parents are unable to see eye to eye over how to divide child custody rights and responsibilities. While these cases can become intense, the details do not usually deviate outside of an established norm. In one highly unusual case in another state, a rapist was given joint custody of a child conceived during the assault.

The only reason the parties were before the court is because the now 21-year-old mother sought financial assistance from the state Department of Health and Human Services. Part of that process required her to file a paternity and child support action against the father of her child. That prompted hearings in which the man who raped her when she was only 12 years old was given joint custody of the resulting child.

An attorney for the mother asked the court to grant the woman sole custody of her child, and to eliminate any language regarding joint custody or parenting time. The judge in the case was unaware of the history between the parents at the time the ruling was made. When he found out, he returned early from vacation to address the matter.

It is highly unlikely that this father will receive any child custody rights in this case. However, to many people in Louisiana and elsewhere, the mere fact that this sort of case was allowed to move through the system is distressing. Many are asking that the system be evaluated to ensure that these types of cases are not allowed to slip through the cracks.

Source: mlive.com, "Judge in child custody case unaware father was rapist", Michael Kransz, Oct. 12, 2017

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