Working to transform the child welfare system.

HB 2559: Relating to parental rights and responsibilities of sexual assault perpetrators and survivors

HB 2559 states that there are estimated between twenty-five thousand and thirty-two thousand rape-related pregnancies in the United States annually and that a substantial number of women who become pregnant as a result of sexual assault choose to give birth and raise their children. The bill states that rapists may use the threat of pursuing parental rights or custody to coerce survivors into not reporting or not assisting in the prosecution of the assault. HB 2559 addresses the issue in which rapist’s pursuit of child custody or parental rights forces the survivor into an ongoing relationship with the rapist, effectively tethering the survivor to the perpetrator and potentially increasing power and control over the survivor.

HB 2559 establishes a process whereby a survivor who becomes pregnant as a result of sexual assault, and who elects to raise the child, can seek the court’s assistance in avoiding continued forced interactions with the rapist and the consequent inability to fully heal from the assault. In other words, the permanent parenting plan must not require mutual decision-making or designation of a dispute resolution process other than court action if it is found that a parent has engaged in sexual assault that results in pregnancy. In addition, the parent’s residential time with the child must be limited if it is found that a parent has engaged in sexual assault that results in pregnancy.