While this blog frequently talks about child custody issues from the perspective of two Arkansas parents working through custody during a divorce, this is not the only context in which child custody comes up. There are many women in Arkansas who conceive children following a rape, many of which choose to keep their children. Though many people may assume that the mother would have sole custody of the child, especially if the father was convicted of raping her, but Arkansas law currently does not prohibit the father from petitioning a court for child custody.
This may not be the case for long, however, after the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would remove all parental rights to the children conceived by rape from the men who raped their mothers. The Little Rock representative who introduced the bill first became interested in the topic when he heard of a lawyer who had to fight for sole custody of her child who was born after the lawyer was raped. She had written a law review article in which she advocated for states to adopt state legislation that would prevent rapist fathers from having any rights to their children.
Now, the representative’s bill will go before the Arkansas Senate. The bill’s author does believe that his bill will be treated fairly in the Senate, but it is unknown if it will be so uniformly accepted in the state’s upper chambers.
Though this is not the most common child custody issue facing most parents in Arkansas, it is something that should be considered. In certain situations one parent’s actions are so dangerous or detrimental to the health of the child that a court should award sole custody of the child to the other parent.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Arkansas Passes Bill Stripping Rapists Of Parental Rights,” John Celock, Feb. 5, 2013