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Senate Bill 171 would change portion of Ohio child custody laws

The Ohio Senate was asked to address a controversial and difficult subject early this year when Senate Bill 171 was introduced. This bill would have a big effect on family courts, and more specifically, child custody laws in Ohio. Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) sponsored this bill.

Under the microscope of this proposed legislation are situations involving a pregnancy that resulted from a sexual assault. Senate Bill 171 proposes that the process for terminating parental rights and putting a child up for adoption be amended to allow the victim to make these choices unilaterally.

A total of 19 states have already enacted laws that prevent the perpetrator of a sexual assault from seeking child custody and visitation rights to a child that was conceived during the assault. Without this bill, said Sen. Turner, the “hope for a sympathetic judge is the only defense a survivor has” when these parental rights are sought by an attacker.

Generally, a parent is required to obtain consent from the other biological parent before they can put a child up for adoption. This bill would allow the victim of an assault to make this decision without consent. It would also carve out an exception allowing the victim to seek to terminate the perpetrator’s parental rights.

It is unclear from the news report when a decision on this issue is expected to be made. While there may be different rules under different circumstances or in different jurisdictions, each child custody dispute is personal. Parents should discuss their individual situation with a child custody attorney.

Source: The Daily Record, “Senate Bill 171 Would Take Away Parental Rights of Rapists,” Marc Kovac, Jan. 16, 2014

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