Case highlights issue of sexual abuse, visitation rights, P.1

Getting the most out of one’s custody rights is important to many parents who find themselves at odds with a former partner over the issue of custody and visitation. As many readers know, just because one’s relationship with one’s partner falls apart, this does not mean the desire to be there for one’s kids is diminished. Although it may be hard to understand, this is also true for those who have mistakes in their past and who have a history of abuse or domestic violence.

An out-of-state case involving a father who was convicted in 2009 of molesting his daughter is an example of this. In this case, the father was convicted in Missouri of first-degree child molestation and sentenced to 16 years in prison. The mother ended up remarrying in 2013 and later asking the father to voluntarily relinquish his parental rights so that her new husband could adopt the daughter and her two younger brothers. This, the father refused to do.

Under the laws of the state in which the couple resided, both parents must provide consent before adoption can take place, unless some exception applies. One such exception is abandonment for at least six months before the adoption filing. In this case, the mother and stepfather proceeded with adoption based on this exception and gained the support of a judge who said the molestation constituted abandonment, even though the father expressed regret over his actions.

That decision, however, was recently overturned on the grounds that abandonment did not apply in the case since the father was in communication with the children within six months of the adoption filing and he was current on child support.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this case, particularly visitation rights for parents accused of molestation, child abuse and domestic violence.

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