Indiana Mother’s can Terminate the Parental Rights of a Rapist

Twenty-two states have abortion bans that would become law almost immediately if Roe V. Wade is overturned. Many of these state bans contain no exceptions for rape or incest survivors.  While Indiana is not one of the States with “trigger laws”, there has been strong indications that Indiana would move fast toward implementing abortion laws.  Whether or not, Indiana will contain a provision for an exception of rape or incest survivors, is unknown.  So, what can a victim do now?

Under current Indiana Law, a parent who is a victim of Rape may bring a Petition to Terminate any parental rights of the Rapist.  Effective July 1, 2016, Indiana implemented this little know law to help Mother’s whose children are conceived in some of the most terrible of circumstances.

So what do I need to do to terminate parental rights?

First thing you need to do is determine whether your situation applies.  Let’s look at the requirements:

  1. You must be a resident of the State of Indiana.
  2. You must, unfortunately, be the victim of rape.
  3. If you are under the age of 18, your parent or guardian must be in agreement.
  4. If you are over the age of 18 at the time of the incident, then subject to the below timelines, you will be able to file.

What are the time limits?

  1. If you are over the age of 18, you must file your Petition for Termination within 180 days of the child’s birth.
  2. If you are under the age of 18, you must file your Petition not later than 2 years after achieving the age of 18.

What do I need to show that my child was conceived of Rape?

First start with filing the Petition for Termination.

  1. You must allege that you were the victim of a rape by the other parent;
  2. That the child was conceived as a result of the rape;
  3. That the termination of the parent-child relationship

You will have to show evidence of the Rape.

  1. Does a person have to be charged and convicted to show that they were guilty of rape? No, this statute is a “civil” case meaning it does not involve the state at all.  Also, this is good for your timeline.  Remember, you have to file within 180 days after the child’s birth (if you are over 18).  Frequently prosecution of a criminal case can take months if not years.  While it is helpful if there is a criminal conviction, it isn’t necessary.
  2. Clear and convincing evidence. This is the standard that Indiana uses to show in this civil case that an alleged individual committed rape.  It can be shown by testimony by the victim, medical evidence, eye witness testimony, etc.
  3. If you are able to show that your child was conceived during the rape, then there is a presumption that termination of parental rights between the rapist and the child is in the child’s best interest.
  4. The opposing party does have the legal right to present a defense against the allegations of rape. They also have the legal right to present arguments that termination of the parents rights may not be in the best interest of the child.

In what circumstances would a Judge deny terminating the Rapists rights?

While it’s difficult to conceive that a Judge would continue to tie a Rapist and their Victim together in perpetuity, there are arguable reasons that it might not be in the child’s best interest.

  1. Financial support. Once parental rights are terminated, all legal rights between the child and the parent are extinguished, therefore, a child cannot receive child support from the parent whose rights are terminated.
  2. As above, once there is no legal relationship, then the child has no “automatic” right of inheritance.
  3. All other paternal relatives are no longer relatives to that child.
  4. Social Security Child Benefits. The child would not be eligible to receive social security benefits under the parent whose rights are terminated if they become disabled.

As you can see, the circumstances surrounding terminating parental rights can be complex. If you or someone you know is thinking about terminating parental rights please contact the family law attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC can help.  Give us a call at 317.526.4630, or email us at info@banksbrower.com, we are available 24/7/365.