Statutory rape victim forced to pay child support

Forced Child Support for Rape Victims

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The purpose of child support is to ensure that a child is taken care of. This is a social value that tracks from the idea that all children are inherently innocent (true) and thus deserve to be supported even if it creates hardships for the parents. However, some situations create results that are so egregious that this philosophy NEEDS to be altered.

Take for example, the case of Nick Olivas. At the age of 14, he was statutorily raped by a 20 year old woman who later became pregnant and had his child. 10 years later at the age of 24, he was served with a lawsuit demanding child support for a daughter he had no idea even existed. There seem to be TONS of issues with this:

First, is whether or not the state should be helping to enforce ADDITIONAL consequences on the victim of a sex crime. If that language sounds harsh, good, because that’s how I view the situation. A long time ago, in regards to women, we moved past the idea that it’s acceptable to force victims of sex crimes to deal with the consequences of the non-consensual pregnancy. It used to be the case that women could be forced to carry children to term in situations where they had been raped, using the same logic used in this case, ie that the child is innocent and thus the parent can suffer the consequences even if it was non-consensual. This obviously places the consequences squarely in the wrong place, however, and society realized this and abandoned the practice. Why is this any different? One could argue the situation is even more clear when dealing with finances, as opposed to pregnancy, because while one cannot transfer a pregnancy to the perpetrator, one can certainly transfer a financial burden. If the perpetrator is unable to support the entire financial burden and society needs to get involved, then I suppose society can foot the bill as well (though I am not in agreement with that either). The bottom line is that the last person who should be paying for this is the victim.

Secondly, even if you think that crime victims should be forced to financially support their attacker’s decision, for Nick Olvias he is being asked to pay BACK child support as well. Presumably the reason that the suit wasn’t filed when the child was born is because you can’t sue CHILDREN. You should not be able to circumvent that by waiting until they are an adult and have a good job, and then asking for back child support. Malicious lack of notice by the perpetrator in this case should ALSO absolve Mr. Olvias of back support here in my opinion (unfortunately my opinion is not the law in Arizona).

There seem to be some pretty obvious solutions here. Assuming we are allowing the perpetrator to sue the victim for the financial fallout of the crime, why not turn it around and allow the victim remedies in civil court for the same, perhaps even treble damages? Then, when the state/mom come seeking child support, Mr. Olvias could hand them the judgment against Mom and ask them to take it directly out of that. One could make the argument that this might allow the child to be unsupported, but child protective services already exists for situations like this, and I see no reason from a social value standpoint to incentivize sex crimes. Because that is what is being done here, point blank. Sex crimes against men are already a notoriously under-reported and under-punished area, so giving potential perpetrators a state sanctioned and enforced BENEFIT to committing the crime seems ludicrous.

As with everything else in life, the consequences of an action should ideally be borne completely by the perpetrator of the action. If we as society allow consequences to be shifted onto other people (especially victims…), it should come as no surprise that people make decisions that would otherwise seem irrational. If a child cannot consent to sex, then they cannot consent to any of the consequences of that action, and thus shouldn’t be forced by the state to pay for them. It seems simple to me, but unfortunately, not to the courts in Mr. Olvias’ case.

 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas.

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