Does a Person Lose Parental Rights When They Go to Jail?

A criminal conviction in New York can have devastating effects on the offender and their loved ones. Besides the emotional and financial toll a person may face during this period, their life, reputation, and even personal relationships may be on the line during criminal procedures. A criminal record can severely limit your individual and parental rights.

If you find yourself in this challenging position, it is best to consult a seasoned New York child custody attorney. Read on to learn more about protecting your parental rights after a criminal conviction.

Parental Rights After a Criminal Conviction

You may lose your parental rights if convicted of a crime in New York. However, it is essential to note that some conditions must be satisfied before your parental rights are revoked.

Getting convicted of a crime doesn’t mean that you will automatically forfeit parental rights. The following conditions must be met before the termination of parental rights:

  • Child neglect can be grounds for terminating parental rights under federal law if a child stays in foster care for 15 of the past 22 months.
  • A parent is judged to have abandoned their child for six months or more. Abandonment can be defined as failing to or not attempting to contact the child.
  • One parent applies for sole custody of a child while the other is in prison, and the incarcerated parent may lose all parental rights. A parent’s defense may be weakened when convicted since their incarceration may be used to award full custody to their co-parent.
  • The state may file a petition for revocation of parental rights if a parent is convicted of a serious crime, such as murder or manslaughter.

Incarcerated People Have Parental Rights

Just because someone is behind bars does not mean they automatically lose parental rights. New York state law allows foster care agencies to delay filing a petition for termination if a parent is in jail or a residential drug rehabilitation center. The organizations must educate parents on their rights and responsibilities in the foster care system and the services available to them.

If you are supposed to pay spousal or child support and get convicted, consult an experienced New York spousal support and child support attorney immediately. This helps you avoid any potential complications by enforcing an existing spousal or child support order.

Safeguarding Your Legal Parental Rights

Knowing the law and your responsibilities can help defend your family’s rights after a criminal conviction. The following steps may help you to protect your rights:

Communicate Amicably with Your Co-Parent

A strained relationship with the other parent can be used as evidence in a petition for full custody. While it’s normal for parents to have their differences of opinion, remember to place your child’s welfare first and be willing to compromise whenever possible.

Maintaining cordial relations with your co-parent can lower the likelihood of a contentious custody battle. It may even encourage co-cooperation with your co-parent when protecting your parental rights.

a jail sentence does not end your parental rights

Entrust Your Child to a Guardian

A child is not considered to be in foster care if they live with a relative, co-parent, or another trusted adult who can serve as a guardian, such as a friend. Therefore, the 15-month foster care requirement necessary to file for parental rights termination would not be fulfilled if your child is living with a guardian.

Choose a guardian who will provide excellent care for your kid. Also, consider a guardian who can maintain open lines of communication. A custody battle could arise if the temporary guardian refuses to return your child.

If you can find a reliable adult to take on the caretaker role for your minor child, you’ll have an easier time contacting and seeing your child when needed.

Consistently Communicate With Your Child

If you don’t want to be found guilty of abandoning or neglecting your kid, you need to keep in regular contact with them. This can be through visits, letters, or phone calls. It’s also a good idea to start getting in touch with your child to keep track of your attempts and successes.

It would be best to document instances where you tried to contact your child but were turned down by their caseworker, caretaker, or foster agency.

Consult a Qualified New York Family Law Attorney

An experienced lawyer can explain your legal options for protecting your family’s rights while you are incarcerated. You have the following rights if your child is in foster care and you are incarcerated:

  • Visitation rights even if your child is in foster care while you are serving time in prison.
  • You have the right to know why your child is being placed with someone else and to name family members or other trusted individuals who can provide for your child while you are in jail.
  • The right to legal representation by an attorney in family court.
  • The right to know and communicate with your child’s caseworker.
  • You have the right to support as you work to reunite with your child.
  • The right to plan your child’s future.

Why You Should Consult an Attorney

If your co-parent already has an order of protection against you, you should consult an expert for help when modifying the order. If you hire an experienced attorney, they may be able to get the order modified to a limited order of protection or make the change contingent on approval from the family court. Your attorney can also petition the family court for visitation rights.

It would be best if you didn’t risk losing your parental rights. A competent attorney who can help you comprehend your rights and who has your and your family’s best interests in mind is essential if you want to protect your parental rights.

Call Us Today

The seasoned attorneys at Douglas Family Law Group, PLLC, can help you protect your parental rights and custody in court. Our firm has successfully helped incarcerated New York parents to retain custody of their children.

Our New York family law attorneys have the experience and understanding of the local judicial system to represent you in such cases effectively. Call us today at 914-615-9058 to schedule a confidential consultation and explore your legal options.

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