Do You Have a Right to See Your Kids After You're Released from Prison?

Do You Have a Right to See Your Kids After You’re Released from Prison?

It depends. The bond between a parent and child can be a beautiful thing. When you are in prison, it can make the bond seem all the more special. However, once you are in prison, the legal side of the parent-child bond can be confusing and unpredictable. So, when you are getting ready to go back into your community, you might have a lot of questions about it. Do you have a right to see your kids after you’re out of prison? Do other people now have a say in your children’s lives? Did you lose your parental rights?

Are custody and parental rights the same thing?

No. When you have custody of your children, there are specific rights that come with it. However, you still have some parental rights even if you do not have custody. Physical custody is the parental right to have your child live or spend time with you. Legal custody is the parental right to have a role in decisions in your child’s life. It is when you lose your right to legal custody of your children that you lose your parental rights.

Do you lose parental rights if you are convicted of a crime?

Generally, no. You do not lose parental rights just for being convicted of a crime. However, this can change depending on the seriousness of the crime committed, such as for manslaughter or murder. If the government wants to terminate your parental rights, it must do so in a separate case.

Do you lose parental rights if you go to prison?

It depends. You will not lose your parental rights simply because you went to prison. Instead, if you are going to prison, courts look at a few more components of your circumstances. The seriousness of the crime is still considered. Other factors are whether your children spent any time in foster care and whether you keep in contact with your children. If those elements are in order, then you will probably not lose parental rights.

In most cases you will keep your parental rights after prison.
Image courtesy of Roger Victorino via Unsplash.

Do you lose custody of your kids while you are in prison?

Sort of. When you are in prison, you will no longer be with your children on a regular basis. So, in that sense, you won’t have custody of them. But a court will not enter an order taking away your custody automatically. If you and your children’s other parent are married or get along, your custody rights may not change. If you are not married or don’t get along, the other parent or the government may seek to end your custody. This could be temporary or permanent.

Do you have a right to see your kids after you’re out of prison?

The answer to this question depends a lot on what happens while you’re in prison. If you have not lost your parental rights, the answer is yes. However, if you lost your parental rights, the answer is no. And most states don’t let you challenge that decision after it has been made and affirmed on appeal.

The answer also isn’t clear if you lost custody or parenting time, but not your parental rights, while away. In that case, it is likely that you’ll have to go to court and have a judge make a custody decision. The judge will make a decision based on the best interests of the children involved.

The Takeaway:

If you still have parental rights, you have the right to see your kids after prison. This is even if custody rights change before or during your time in prison. However, your parental rights can be taken based on several different factors. Ultimately, though, it is not likely you will lose parental rights just because of a conviction.

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