Maryland Senate Passes Overdue Paternity Measure, Catches Up with Illinois
The rights a parent has to spend time with their child and raise him or her as well as the responsibility a parent has to protect and care for his child are collectively called “parental rights.” A parent is responsible for providing the basics like food, water, and shelter, but also immaterial necessities like education, affection, appropriate discipline, and medical care. Courts do have the authority to terminate parental rights, but this only happens if it is in the child’s best interest to end contact with a parent. This most often happens in cases of abuse or neglect. Parental rights are also terminated when a parent gives a child up for adoption. In situations where unmarried parents have a child together or married parents get divorced, the courts clarify parental rights and responsibilities through child custody orders.
Parental Rights When a Child is Conceived Through Rape
Studies approximate that between 17,000 and 32,000 pregnancies resulting from rape occur in the United States each year. Most would assume that if a person is found guilty of rape that they would not have parental rights to the child which was conceived; however, this is not the case across the country. The Maryland Senate just recently voted on this deeply important, but semi-controversial issue.
This month, the state senate unanimously ruled that if a person conceives a child through rape, that he or she will not have parental rights to that child. To some, this may seem like an obvious rule, but the law is more complex than it seems. The decision to terminate parental rights for rapists has brought up issues regarding due process for the accused because the rule can involve parents who have not been criminally convicted of rape. Maryland Senator Robert Zirkin says that the bill is “not without its complications, and we'll be addressing some of those in years to come.”
The State of Illinois Does Not Require a Criminal Conviction to Terminate Parental Rights
Illinois is one of the 45 states that already have measures to limit or eliminate parental rights for someone who is accused of rape. In Illinois, if a person conceives a child through sexual assault, he or she does not have the ability to spend time with that child or have a say in how the child is raised. It is important to note that the state of Illinois does not require an alleged rapist to be criminally convicted of rape in order to sever his or her parental rights. The courts consider “clear and convincing evidence” of conception through assault as a sufficient reason to end the accused’s parental rights to his or her child.
Contact Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC for Help
If you have further questions about your parental rights, or you wish to sever the parental rights of your child’s other parent, contact an experienced Wheaton, Illinois family law attorney. For guidance with your case, contact our attorneys today at 630-665-7300.