If the child was conceived from a sexual assault, can the offender's rights be terminated?
The mother of the child, or the mother’s parent/guardian if the mother is a minor, can file a petition in district court to terminate the offender’s parental rights and responsibilities if the child was conceived due to an act of gross sexual assault, sexual abuse of minors, or incest in Maine or a similar crime in another state. Whether the judge must terminate the rights or whether the judge has the option (discretion) to do so depends on whether there was a criminal conviction for the sexual assault or not.
If the offender was criminally convicted of any of those crimes, the judge must terminate the parent’s parental rights and responsibilities when requested.1 The only exception to this is when a parent/guardian is filing the petition on behalf of a minor victim of statutory rape (gross sexual assault section (1)(B)). In this case, the judge can deny the petition and not terminate the offender’s parental rights if:
- the victim is at least 12 years old;
- the victim says that the sexual act was “consensual;” and
- the victim doesn’t want the offender’s rights to be terminated.1
If the offender was not criminally convicted of any of the above-mentioned crimes, the judge can terminate the offender’s parental rights and responsibilities if you prove with clear and convincing evidence that the offender committed an act of sexual violence that resulted in the child being conceived.2
1 M.R.S. 19-A § 1658(1), (2)(A), (3-A)(A)
2 M.R.S. 19-A § 1658(1), (2)(A), (3-A)(B)(1)
3 M.R.S. 19-A § 1658(3-A)(A), (4)