A 24-year-old man wants to see the child of a girl he admitted to raping when he was 17, filing a petition seeking visitation rights on the grounds that he is currently paying $110 in weekly child support to the child's mother. She was 14 at the time of the rape. The case has raised the question of whether convicted rapists should be allowed to file petitions in family court regarding their victims and any children conceived during rape.
Like other states, Michigan's standard regarding child support, custody and visitation issues rests on the determination of what is in the best interests of the child. Yet, Michigan has no laws that explicitly address the conflict of rights that cases like this one represent. That makes it important for parents faced with such a situation to seek the help of an experienced family attorney in order to protect their, and their child's, safety and best interests.
According to the woman's attorney, the rape victim and the then-teen boy knew each other from a church group. On the day of the rape, he visited her home when he knew her mother was not there and intimidated her into having sex with him and she became pregnant.
He pleaded guilty to the rape in 2011. He was sentenced to 16 years of probation and ordered to pay $110 per week in child support to the victim. The man then argued that he should be allowed to see the child and the criminal court judge sent the question to family court.
The victim's attorney explains that her client is very worried that she will be forced to hand over her daughter to the man convicted of raping her and argues that issuing such an order would be unjust. She recently filed a motion seeking to have the matter removed from family court and returned to the criminal system. She also wants payments from the father to be classified as restitution, rather than child support, to show that it is clearly a matter of criminal court jurisdiction. A ruling on her requests is pending.
In an ideal world every facet of possible social interaction would be addressed under existing law. Clearly that isn't the world we live in. Personal rights run the risk of being infringed upon. An attorney is the resource to turn to when those rights need defending.
Source: ABC News, "Rapist Wants Visitation Rights With Child Conceived During Rape," Colleen Curry, Sept. 29, 2012