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Analyzing an Ugly Custody Case

A mother seeking child support for her 16-year-old daughter was met with a petition for parental rights by the father. The mother had initially put another man’s name on the birth certificate because at the time of conception, the mother was 16 years of age and the father was 30. The father would have faced a child molestation charge had the fact of the pregnancy come to light at the time. However, once the mother attempted to get support from the father, he decided to assert his parental rights. The daughter, who is now 16, is the same age as her mother was when the unlawful sexual contact occurred.

The father did not know he was the father until 2010. In 2011, the mother sought child support payments from the father. In most cases, after paternity is established, the father will try to assert his parental rights over the child. That is what happened here. The result has been an ugly custody battle. 10 years later and the matter is still under debate. In 2015, the mother came forward saying that the child was conceived by forcible rape. In the meantime, the father was awarded custody of the 16-year-old girl. The police did not investigate the rape allegation until 2021. The allegation of forcible rape, however, should be irrelevant. They have the mother’s DNA, the father’s DNA, and the child’s DNA. Since they know the ages of every party, doing the simple subtraction necessary to determine that the child was conceived when the mother was still a minor is not hard.

At this point, the 16-year-old daughter has been living primarily with her father. Once the court realized that they had placed the girl in a home with a man who was attracted to 16-year-old girls, they ordered that she be kept in the care of a third party. The father was denied any visits, while the mother was allowed to visit once a month while taking parenting classes. The mother claims that the father received full custody of the daughter in 2016—one year after she accused the father of rape. 

Analyzing the Allegations

The problem for the mother is that she did not report the allegations of rape until around the same time that the father was moving to get primary custody. She is alleging that he picked her up from a bar, offered her a ride home, and proceeded to rape her. In other words, she is alleging common law rape as opposed to statutory rape. The issue is important because a man who picks a woman up at a bar can rightfully assume that she is of legal age as opposed to a minor. In order to commit the crime of sexual abuse against a minor, you must be aware that the individual is a minor. In other words, it’s not necessarily apparent that the father did something wrong if the sex was consensual. The allegation of common-law rape, however, is illegal regardless of the age of the victim. 

Talk to an Indiana Child Custody Lawyer Today

Chris Arrington handles complex custody matters for Indiana residents. Call today and we can begin discussing your next moves immediately. 

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