Today there are more than 1.7 million children in the United States with
incarcerated parents. Additionally, approximately one in right children
have experienced parental incarceration while they were minors. Studies
have consistently shown that a children with parents who are in prison
suffer from emotional traumas on par with abuse, domestic violence and
divorce. Children are especially affected when their parents are divorced.
Just because a parent is in prison does not mean they lose their visitation
rights to see their child, but if your ex-spouse is living in a prison
far away from your home, visiting may place undue stress and financial
hardship on your family.
If you are a divorced spouse struggling with managing visitation rights
while your ex is incarcerated, you may be able to alter your court ordered
custody and visitation arrangements. In this blog, our Pasadena child
custody attorney discusses things to consider when managing child custody
while one parent is in jail.
Physical Custody vs Legal Custody and Visitation Rights
If you and your incarcerated spouse are divorced with a joint
legal custody or physical custody arrangement, they still have certain rights to make decisions regarding
their children. Decisions made under legal custody could include: whether
or not a child will attend religious services, medical care, and where
their child may go to school. If visiting the incarcerated parent has
become a burden, it is possible to change the custody order, but you will
have to file a Request for order Form FL-300 and show there has been a
change in circumstances indicated your ex has been incarcerated which
greatly affects your current custody agreement.
Often prisoners are moved around to other state prisons, which can be far
away from the other non-incarcerated parent to travel. Depending on how
far away the prisoner is moved from their family, caretakers or non-incarcerated
parents may have to pay for accommodations and other travel expenses which
can be a huge financial strain.
Our constitution protects the parent-child relationship, meaning even incarcerated
parents have the right to respond to the motion. The incarcerated parent
will also have to provide evidence to the courts that they have continued
a consistent relationship with their child. In order to maintain parental
rights, fathers and mothers must maintain contact and inclusion in their
child’s life. Letters, photos and gifts sent to their child may
be one way they can prove they have continued their relationship. There
are grounds for the court to involuntarily terminate parental rights if
the parent is serving a long-term prison sentence without the possibility
of parole for six or more years.
Best Interests of the Child
When a court decides on custody and visitation rights for children of divorced
parents, a large factor they consider is the best interests of the child.
Prison visits can be extremely stressful for their children as most prison
visits have rules against touching, time limits of visitation, plastic
barriers and requirements that all communication be through telephones.
This can give the child a stronger sense of separation from their parent.
Additionally, children will have to face pat downs, frisk searches, and
rude treatment from staff which can be stressful, especially for young
children who may not completely understand the situation they are in.
Let Us Help You
At The Graves Law Firm, we believe in fighting for what is in the best
interests of the children. If you are considering filing a motion to change
your current child custody and visitation orders our Pasadena child custody
attorney can help you through this process. We have extensive experience
handling child custody and family law matters, so you can rest assured
you are in good hands.
Contact our firm today to speak with an attorney.