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Terminating the parental rights of a sexually abusive parent, P.1

In a previous post on this blog, we spoke about the various factors Florida courts consider when making child custody determinations. As we noted, these factors include things like the resources and abilities of the parents, the special needs of the child, and the relationship between the child and other family members with whom he or she would be in close contact.

Another factor courts consider when determining custody is evidence of domestic and sexual violence. Certainly, such evidence relates directly to the best interests of the child, and courts take it very seriously. By the same token, courts also take false accusations of domestic and sexual violence seriously as well, and courts will also consider evidence that a parent has knowingly provided false information about sexual assault or domestic violence when making child custody determinations. 

For victims of rape, whether married or not, it is important to be aware of the possibility of terminating the offending parent’s custody rights. There are various circumstances under which a parent can seek termination of parental rights. These include: voluntarily executing a written surrender agreement; abandonment; endangerment of the child or engaging in egregious conduct toward the child; prolonged incarceration of a violent career criminal; extensive history of substance abuse; and registration as a sexual predator.

For some women who face the possibility of going through a child custody battle with their attacker, one or another of these grounds may be enough to secure termination of parental rights. In some cases, however, it is necessary to make use of another listed ground for terminating the parental rights of a parent accused of rape.

We’ll continue looking at this issue in our next post. 

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