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State will consider terminating parental rights for rapists

  • Published in State

Maryland FlagAmong the first items on the legislative agenda in Annapolis next year will be a bill to allow rape survivors the right to terminate the parental rights of their rapist.

The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act – which failed to pass in last year’s legislative session when time ran out – will be the first bill on the docket in the House of Delegates and the second bill on the docket in the Senate.

“I’ve been working on this bill with many others for about 10 years,” said Del. Kathleen Dumais (D-15), the lead sponsor of the bill.

The bill would allow rape survivors who become pregnant by their attacker to petition the state to remove his parental rights. Current law requires a felony rape conviction to terminate a rapist’s parental rights.

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When the grandparents get custody

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The Courts go to great lengths to protect parental rights when making child custody decisions in divorce cases, with the presumption being that a parent should have custody of their child. Given the dynamics of modern family life, it is becoming more frequent that parties such as grandparents may ultimately be awarded custody. This is illustrated by an opinion this month from Maryland’s intermediate appellate court called Natasha Burak v. Mark Burak.

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De facto parents rights in Maryland

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Given the advent of same sex marriage, courts in Maryland are addressing issues of divorce, child custody and visitation issues arising from dissolution of those relationships as well as traditional marriage. Earlier this month, Maryland’s highest Court recognized the changes that have occurred involving same sex relationships and the law, in a case  called Michelle Conover v. Brittany Conover.

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The tie goes to the "One" parent

 

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Most judges will say that child custody decisions in divorce cases are among the thorniest problems with which they must deal. Maryland’s Court of Appeals in a 1986 opinion approved the concept of joint custody of the children after a divorce, designed to give each parent an equal say in important decisions in their child’s life. That decision held that the most important factor in whether to make an award of joint custody was the ability of the parents to communicate and make shared decisions. What happens when there is no ability for the parents to effectively communicate was explored by a recent case from Maryland’s highest Court called Santo v. Santo.

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Probation for the sex offender parent

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Those individuals convicted of sexual offenses understandably face not only punishment which may include prison, but limitations on their freedoms if they are granted probation after release from incarceration.  Whether the terms of probation can be applicable even to limit the defendant’s parental rights was explored by Maryland’s Court of Appeals in a recent case called Troy Robert Allen v. State of Maryland.

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