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Some child custody situations can be worse than you can imagine

Child custody cases can involve all manner of issues. Some parents can decide in a civilized fashion how to determine their parenting time, and are willing to work together for their children's best interest even as their marriage is breaking apart. For other parents, so many factors can intervene that they cannot get past their mutual distrust and ill will, even if it works against their children.

And then there are the really extreme cases. In Illinois, a woman who is raped and becomes pregnant can wind up in a child custody fight with her rapist. In order to restrict his custody or visitation rights, she has to obtain a criminal rape conviction against her attacker. This can be difficult for some women, emotionally and factually, given the circumstance.

A bill has been introduced that would lower the evidentiary threshold to "clear and convincing" and not the much higher criminal standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt." This level of evidence is easier to meet in cases of sexual abuse or assault.

In some cases of rape, the rapist will use the threat of obtaining custody or visitation rights with the child as a bargaining position to get the women to drop the rape charges. This bill would prevent this from happening, as it would allow the court to terminate the child's parent-child relationship with the alleged perpetrator of the act of sexual assault, which would stop the rapist from having the any rights to custody of the child.

While this may seem like an unlikely situation, the sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Ann Williams said that there are "between 25,000 and 32,000 rape related pregnancies" every year.

Source: CBS Chicago, "Bill Would Help Women Avoid Custody Battles With Alleged Rapists," Bernie Tafoya, April 11, 2013

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