Rape and Child Custody

11589430_sIt is estimated that 1 in 6 women are victims of rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports a pregnancy rate of 5% among rape victims between age 12 and 45. Some women choose to carry their pregnancies to term and parent their child. Women who do so are often concerned that their rapist could seek or obtain custody or parenting time with their child.

Some states have passed or are in the process of passing legislation banning convicted rapists from obtaining custody or visitation with the child, but Arizona is not yet one of them. Can a rapist obtain custody? And can a rapist be required to pay child support?

Arizona courts base custody and parenting time decisions on what is in the best interests of the child. There are a variety of factors to be considered in making a best interest determination. The conditions under which the pregnancy was begun and the violence and coercion involved would be considered by the court. If the rapist has been convicted, the conviction would also weigh in the decision. In most situations, it would be extremely rare for a rapist to be given custody or parenting time, however it is not impossible because the overriding interest at play is what is best for the child. If the rape was a statutory rape (sex between a minor and an adult) that was not violent, contact with the child would be much more likely to be granted.

If a rapist was determined to be the biological parent of a child, child support can be ordered. There is a case in Arizona in which a male victim of statutory rape was ordered to pay child support.

If you have been raped, it is important to receive the support you need – legally and emotionally – so that you can heal. Call the Sampair Group if you need help with child custody or support in Glendale, Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona.