Can Parental Rights Be Terminated If a Parent Is Incarcerated?
One of the most unfortunate tolls of a criminal conviction is its effects on your family. Criminal proceedings can be emotionally difficult, not to mention costly. After enduring all of the difficulty of an accusation and conviction, the prospect of losing your parental rights is a scary thought. And it’s a reasonable one.
Unfortunately, losing your parental rights while you’re in prison is a distinct possibility if you don’t take the right steps. Keep reading to learn how a New York family lawyer from The Mandel Law Firm might be able to help.
Can I Lose My Parental Rights While Incarcerated in New York?
The short answer is yes, but only when certain conditions are met. You cannot lose your parental rights solely for being incarcerated. Here are the necessary conditions to terminating parental rights of incarcerated individuals:
- Federal law says that if a child has been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months, the foster care agency can file a petition to terminate the child’s parental rights.
- If a parent doesn’t see or make an effort to communicate with their child for six months or longer, their parental rights could be terminated on the grounds of abandonment.
- If one parent is incarcerated, the child’s other parent can file for sole custody. The parent’s incarceration will make it difficult for them to mount an effective defense, and it might be used by the other party as part of their argument for custody.
It’s important to remember that incarceration, in and of itself, can’t result in the termination of your parental rights. If you take the right steps and get help from an experienced, knowledgeable New York family lawyer, you have a good chance of maintaining your parental rights.
How Can I Protect My Parental Rights?
There are a few steps you can take to help protect your parental rights in the event of your incarceration, including:
- Placing your child with a known adult caregiver – If your child lives with their other parent, another relative, or another guardian such as a close friend, the grounds for abandonment can’t be met. This is the easiest way to maintain your parental rights, as long as the other parent or guardian maintains a positive relationship with you.
- Make an effort to see and communicate with your child – You must have failed to see or interact with your child for six months for your parental rights to be terminated on the grounds of abandonment. If you take steps to have your child visit and maintain your relationship with phone calls and letters, the state will have a hard time showing that you’ve abandoned your child.
- Stay on good terms with your child’s other parent or guardian – Arguing with your child’s other parent or guardian makes it easier for them to make a case for sole custody. If you refuse to cooperate on decisions about your child’s life out of frustration with their guardian, they might make a case for abandonment. Keeping good communication with your child’s guardian makes it less likely that you’ll have a custody dispute.
How a New York Family Lawyer Could Help
Contact a family lawyer as soon as possible if you have a child and are facing incarceration. It’s important to act quickly to protect your parental rights.
A New York family law attorney can help you make arrangements to visit and communicate with your child, negating the grounds for abandonment. A lawyer can also help you place your child with a trusted guardian, which could help your child avoid being placed in foster care. It can difficult to mount an effective legal defense on your own while incarcerated, so it’s a good idea to help from an attorney.
Get a Consultation With Our New York Family Law Firm
Time is of the essence when it comes to protecting your rights as a parent, so talk to one of our New York family lawyers as soon as possible. You can get a consultation with The Mandel Law Firm by calling us, using our live chat service, or filling out our contact form.