If you go to prison, you can lose custody of your children. You could lose custody to your children’s other parent, or they could go into foster care. But this is only true under certain circumstances. In many circumstances, your rights as a parent aren’t at risk simply because of a criminal conviction.
Will you lose custody of your children if you go to prison?
Maybe. There are a few situations in which you might lose custody of your children when you go to prison.
- Serious felonies. If you are convicted of murder or manslaughter, it’s possible that the government will seek to take custody of your children away from you.
- Time in foster care. If your children spend more than 15 out of 22 months in foster care, the government can also try to terminate your parental rights.
- Limited or no contact. The government can also petition to take custody away from you if you do not keep contact with your children. If you go more than six months without contacting your children, you could lose custody.
Note that these are not the only reasons why you might lose custody due to your prison sentence. And it is also not certain that you could lose custody in these situations. But if these things are true, there is a chance that you could lose custody of your children.
Could your child end up in foster care if you go to prison?
Yes. If you do not establish care for your child while you are away, they could be placed in foster care. The state will not allow your children to live without a legal guardian at home.
How can you be sure to keep custody of your child if you go to prison?
There are ways that you can prepare for your child’s care before you go to prison. If you can ensure that your children are well cared for, you don’t have to be as worried about losing custody.
Here are a few things you can do to lower the chance that you lose custody.
- Set money aside. Your child will still have needs while you are away. If you can, make sure that you have enough money to take care of their expenses while you are in prison. Make sure that this money is easily accessible to the people who are caring for your children.
- Make a plan. Be sure to find someone who is willing to care for your child or children while you are gone. This could be a friend, a family member or someone from your community. The rule about time spent in foster care only applies to state-sponsored care. So as long as your child is safe with someone you know, you don’t have to worry about losing custody as much.
- Stay in touch. It can be difficult to keep in touch while you are in prison. But to keep custody of your kids, you need to make the effort. Make sure to make notes of each time you communicate with them, whether through phone, email or letters.
You can lose custody of your children when you go to prison. But you can also take steps to prevent that from happening. If you ensure for your child’s welfare and keep in touch while you are in prison, the risk of losing custody is low.