Hawaii's Law to Deprive Rapists of Parental Rights

In California, under Family Code Section 3030(b), no person shall be granted custody of or visitation of a child, if that person has been convicted of rape and the child was conceived as a result of that violation.

The purpose of the law is to prevent the child and the victim of the crime being forced into an ongoing relationship with the rapist/parent in raising the child. Otherwise, the victim and the child would be subjected to continuous re-victimization.

Hawaii, however, has expanded this type of law and will cause some persons to lose their parental rights if they are accused of sexual assault and that alleged sexual assault resulted in the conception and subsequent birth of the child.

Signed into law by Governor David Ige on July 6, 2016, a person can lose his/her parental rights if there is clear and convincing evidence of sexual assault.

To be convicted of a criminal act, the law states a person must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high standard to prove; in fact, the highest standard to prove. The standard of clear and convincing evidence, although still difficult to prove, is lower than the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

Evidence showing a person committed a sexual assault by clear and convincing evidence would NOT be found guilty of a criminal act, but now, in Hawaii, that standard would be enough to terminate a person’s parental rights.

According to the Associated Press in quoting the National Conference on State Legislatures, “…there are between 17,000 and 32,000 rape-related pregnancies in the U.S. every year. The group says nearly two dozen states allow for termination of parental rights if a parent was convicted of sexual assault which resulted in the birth of a child.”

According to Governor Ige, "We all know that sexual assault by itself is a horrible event, but clearly having to bear the child of the rapist is even worse."

Perhaps California will follow Hawaii’s example and change its termination of parental rights after a sexual assault as well.

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