Legislation would ensure fathers who are rapists not be granted joint custody or parenting time

LANSING, Mich., June 13, 2018 — Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D–Taylor) and Sen. Rick Jones (R–Grand Ledge) today introduced bills to protect mothers and children from joint custody or shared parenting time with the father, if the father is a convicted rapist.

The bills stem from a recent case where a Sanilac County judge didn’t know that the defendant had raped the plaintiff — critical information that resulted in the judge reversing his initial decision of granting the rapist joint custody of his child born from the act.

Senate Bill 1086, sponsored by Sen. Hopgood, would broaden the definition of ‘good cause’ to clarify that an exemption could apply to circumstances where the child was the product of rape, and include instances of domestic violence, child abuse or non-consensual penetration — regardless of whether or not there was a conviction.

“My bill clarifies the process of qualifying for good cause and will help mothers understand — before DHHS decides to take action with their case — what exactly that means, what happens, and what they can expect next so that there are no surprises,” Sen. Hopgood said.

Sen. Jones’ bill, Senate Bill 1085, would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to include a claim of good cause — before any question related to the identity of the father — as part of the child support application.

“Sometimes mothers seeking child support from the father are disclosing the identity of the father without even being aware of the good cause exemption,” Sen. Jones said. “We need to put safeguards in place to ensure that mothers are able to safely apply for child support without putting themselves, and their child’s life, unknowingly in danger.”