Indiana HB1261 has been introduced by Representative Slager. This bill would add a new section, IC 31-35-3.5, to Article 35 of the Family Law and Juvenile Law code under Title 31 which provides for the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship. This new section would allow for the Termination of Parent-Child Relationship with an individual who committed an act of rape.
If a child was conceived as a result of an act of rape, the parent who is the victim of the act of rape may file a verified petition with the juvenile or probate court to terminate the parent-child relationship between the child and the alleged perpetrator of the act of rape. The verified petition must include three allegations;  that the alleged perpetrator committed an act of rape against the parent who filed the petition to terminate the parent-child relationship;  that the child was conceived as a result of the act of rape described under clause ; and  that the termination of the parent-child relationship between the alleged perpetrator and the child is in the best interests of the child.
There is no requirement that there be a conviction or admission of rape but instead there must be a showing by clear and convincing evidence that;  the alleged perpetrator committed an act of rape against the parent filing the petition; and  the child was conceived as a result of the act of rape. Satisfaction of those two requirements is prima facie evidence that termination of the parent-child relationship between the alleged perpetrator and the child is in the best interests of the child. That termination is in the best interest of the child may be refuted even if both other provisions are satisfied.
The court shall terminate the parent-child relationship if the court finds;  by clear and convincing evidence that the allegations in the petition are true; and  that termination of the parent-child relationship is in the best interests of the child. If the court does not find that all three conditions have been satisfied then the court shall dismiss the petition. The court may appoint a guardian ad litem [GAL], a court appointed special advocate [CASA]; or both a GAL and CASA for a child in a proceeding under this chapter.
Now that all seems well and good but here come my concerns and admonitions. First, is that there is no language addressing child support payments which are terminated along with parental rights. If a woman is willing to raise a child conceived as a result of rape that is one of the most laudable acts she could do. She shouldn’t be required to be solely financially responsible just because she doesn’t want to continue to interact with her rapist.
My second concern is the possibility for abuse of this statute. There have been well documented examples, including admissions by and criminal convictions, of false allegations of Domestic Violence to obtain free housing, other services, or to deprive the other parent of a parent-child relationship. Therefore, I would like to see a clause added that the alleged rape must have been reported to a law enforcement agency or medical provider within a reasonable time after the alleged rape that would precede knowledge of the pregnancy. The ‘clear and convincing’ standard, while better than the ‘preponderance of the evidence’ [51%] standard, is not as high as the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard. I believe the potential for abuse is a legitimate concern and that something in addition to the ‘clear and convincing’ standard, which is generally thought to be around 75% likely, needs to be added to this bill. The Innocence Project has been responsible for gaining the freedom of hundreds of men falsely convicted of rape under the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard.
By ensuring that a mother who chooses to raise a child on her own conceived by rape is not financially burdened and that a prior reporting provision be added to reduce potential for abuse I would support this legislation.
Click here to see other 2015 Indiana Child Custody and Child Support Payment bills.
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