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Incarceration Can Compromise Child Custody

On behalf of Tasha K. Schaffner of Schaffner Family Law, posted in child custody on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

Incarcerated parents in Kentucky or other states typically lose some of their parental rights. Depending on the reason for incarceration, most parents in jail continue to be mothers or fathers — the fact that they made mistakes that landed them in prison do not make them monsters. Conviction does not sever the bond between a child and a parent, nor does it cancel child custody.

Unfortunately, the nature of the circumstances limit the means for jailed parents to maintain the parent-child relationship and be an active parent. If the other parent chooses to prevent contact between the prisoner and the child, there is not much he or she can do. Without the ability to stay in touch and be included in the life of the child, the danger of losing that bond becomes real.

Even if the parent in prison has joint custody of the child, the other parent has no legal obligation to allow phone calls, give the child letters from the jailed parent or bring him or her for visits to the prison. Furthermore, that parent need not consult with the prisoner on most decisions made about the child. However, a parent in jail does not automatically lose custody and may retain some rights when it comes to major decisions such as authorizing selective surgery.

Although the parent who is free can petition the court to strip the other parent of custodial rights, the prisoner has the right also to file suit to force the other parent to bring the child for visits. This will involve seeking the help of an experienced Kentucky family law attorney who is skilled in protecting the rights of parents in child custody battles. A seasoned attorney can advocate for prisoner throughout legal proceedings.

Source:, “Parental Rights of a Father in Jail“, J.E. Myers, Accessed on March 17, 2017

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