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How could a sexual assault bill affect innocent fathers?

Men in New Orleans may not always get to hear what they want when their significant other has a child: that the child is theirs. But there are plenty of reasons that this may not be the case or that a woman would make this claim. Paternity disputes are not as rare as one might think and they give men the opportunity to prove that a child is theirs, not someone else's. Many men have been shortchanged by women who have managed to keep their children away with such claims and it seems that, in some states, there may be even more opportunity for this to happen.

A new bill working its way through another state's legislature is designed to keep individuals who sexually assault a woman away from her and any child born from the crimes committed against the woman. While the intent of the bill is genuine and could be extremely useful in many cases, it is possible that a woman hoping to keep the father of the child away from the newborn would seek to use this potential new law to her advantage. If a woman claims sexual assault and can prove it in court, the father may be kept away, regardless of whether or not paternity has been proven.

Two different versions of the bill exist at this time: One would automatically prevent a convicted assaulter from receiving custody or visitation rights while the other would leave this decision up to a court. Some believe that it is more likely for the first version of the bill to be taken advantage of by mothers trying to keep fathers away, as it seems that little consideration is necessary after conviction.

Regardless of the potential law, fathers must be wary of the legal gymnastics that can end with them having little or no access to their own children. If you are involved in a paternity dispute, speak with a lawyer about your case. Legal professionals that specialize in family law and divorce can be essential to winning a case such as this.

Source:  Democrat and Chronicle, "Bill would keep attackers from having custody rights" Jon Campbell, Jun. 05, 2013

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