Parents who are or may be incarcerated both share a concern about what happens to their child while they are in jail and how their arrest may affect their parental rights. The main concern may be whether the parent’s new criminal record may influence CPS’s ability to take their children. The short answer is no. Depending on your crime, you will not lose your parental rights to your child. However, there are some necessary steps to take to secure your parental rights while you are away.
What Should I Do?
- Find someone who you trust to take care of your child (sooner rather than later),
- Fill out the legal paperwork so that your trusted person can properly care for your child,
- Stay in touch with your child during your period of incarceration, and
- Pay child support, even from within prison.
A criminal record does not necessarily make you lose your parental rights. For misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies, there is a good chance that the court will take no action against your rights. However, if you are convicted of a serious felony or any crimes against your child or other children, then your parental rights may be at risk. The court is most worried about providing the child with a safe home after your incarceration; if the court believes that a stable home cannot be provided by you, then you may lose your parental rights.
Cooperation is Key
The key to maintaining your parental rights is to prove to the court that you care and that you are cooperating. By finding a temporary, stable home for your child, the court will be more likely to let you keep your rights. Another great way to prove that you are helping is through child support payments. These may not always be easy, since you will likely not have a steady income while you are incarcerated. However, even small, consistent payments can go a long way for the court. It is much better to do smaller payments consistently than large amounts irregularly. The courts tend to look at consistency as a positive sign for a child’s welfare. By staying consistent and cooperative with the court, you show that you want to and can be a fit parent when you are released from jail.
Finding a Safe Home
Finding a safe home for your child during your incarceration is important. A safe home can be either with family or friends, as long as the proper paperwork is filled out so that they can properly and legally care for your child while you are away. Not everyone has relatives or loved ones that can take in a child. It can be a burden for people, so sometimes children are placed with foster homes during your period of incarceration. Being placed in a foster home is sometimes necessary and isn’t always a poor reflection on your parenting. What is important is making reasonable efforts to make sure that your child is in a good and safe environment. Being placed in foster care isn’t permanent.
Being Present for Your Child
The most important thing you can do for your child if you are facing incarceration is to be present for your child, even while in prison. Regular contact goes a long way with the court, so writing letters and making regular phone calls to your child is a good idea. If you have court hearings for your children during your incarceration, then you will be allowed to phone in for the hearings most of the time. This is another great way to prove to the court that you are a present parent that can care for the child once you are no longer incarcerated.
The Kronzek Firm Will Fight to Help Keep Your Family Together
The skilled CPS defense attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have a great track record when dealing with CPS. We know exactly how difficult it is being away from your child can be.
If you or a loved one has been contacted by CPS, or CPS has already begun their investigation, call us immediately at 866-766-5245. We are available 24/7 to help you fight to keep your family together.