Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Does my Ex Have Parental Rights in Prison

My Ex is in Prison - Does He Still Have Parental Rights?

Estimates are that about five million children in the United States have a parent who has been incarcerated at some point in their life. A parent who goes to prison significantly impacts the life of a child, especially if they are behind bars during the formative years of their life. The percentage of minors with a parent in prison rose by about 80% from 1991 to 2007, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. If your co-parent is in prison and you are concerned about parental rights, it is best to speak with an experienced child custody lawyer. Research shows that children with a jailed parent usually have less of a family income and are usually forced to move frequently. Some parents and social agencies will work to mend relationships with parents who are facing shorter prison sentences. However, those who have committed violent crimes or are in jail for longer periods of time might face a situation where a former spouse looks to legally terminate parental rights.

What Are the Laws Surrounding Parental Rights?

Parental rights are not able to be revoked for just being in prison, but the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act allows a court to terminate parental rights if there is a compelling to do so, and if a child has been inside of the foster care system for 15 out of the past 22 months. The law does not apply to those in private placement. A case for the revocation of parental rights on grounds of abandonment can also be filed if an incarcerated parent has not visited or communicated with their child for six consecutive months. If a child is in foster care, it is the responsibility of the parent to keep contact with the agency overseeing the child. State law in New York allows for incarcerated people to lose their parental rights if they fail on multiple occasions to work with the other parent towards planning for a child’s future, or to arrange visits with a child. However, rights can be reinstated if a child was in foster care while a parent was in prison and a placement was not found within a certain time frame. Agencies in New York who move to file a termination are required to keep incarcerated parents updated about their parental rights. They are also obligated to give advice about related services and programs for visitation.

What Should Someone Do to Avoid Losing Parental Rights?

A person who is imprisoned and facing the risk of losing parental rights should move quickly to document all efforts they have taken to keep in contact with their child. It is important to keep track of every situation that attempted contact was made with the child themselves or an associated caseworker. An experienced family lawyer will be able to give advice about the parental rights of ex-spouses who are behind bars. They will also be able to assist with cases related to parental rights if they are filed. If you are facing a custody issue in your family, contact us today to set up a free consultation to discuss your options

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