There is a mass incarceration crisis in America. Our country has a higher percentage of people in jail or prison than any other country in the world. Fully one out of five incarcerated individuals in the world is in an American correctional facility. Many of these inmates are parents. Having legal problems does not make someone a bad or harmful parent. Often, it remains in the best interests of the child to have the incarcerated parent be part of their life as much as possible. However, there is a limit to how much parenting time one can have while they are locked up. In Illinois, courts are beginning to recognize the value of helping children maintain a relationship with an incarcerated parent during child custody cases. A lawyer can help you understand how incarceration could affect your custody case.
What You Need to Know About the Impact of Incarceration on Child Custody
While a parent who is in jail or prison cannot have primary physical custody, visitation is a possibility. Courts consider a variety of factors before making a custody decision in any case. When one parent is incarcerated or anticipates being incarcerated, the court has a bit more to consider. Some facts you should know about the impact of incarceration on child custody issues include:
- Guardian ad Litem – It is very likely that a Guardian ad Litem will be appointed to help the court better understand what the best course of action for the child might be. This individual’s role is simply to talk with your child and assess what is in their best interest.
- Visitation – Getting parenting time during incarceration is not impossible – many judges will still award an incarcerated parent some parenting time. While your child’s other parent will have primary custody, it can be arranged to have your child visit. Depending on the circumstances, like whether there is a divorce involved and when it is finalized, it may be relatively easy or rather difficult to arrange visitation for an incarcerated parent.
- Child support – Being locked up does not automatically relieve a parent of their obligation to support their child. However, the court will consider your lack of income and ability to pay when making a determination.
- Circumstances matter – A parent who is serving time for child abuse is much less likely to retain any rights to see their child than a parent who was convicted of a crime that does not directly affect or endanger the child, like theft or minor drug possession.
If you have concerns about how being incarcerated could affect your continuing legal and personal relationship with your child, speaking with an attorney is the best place to start.
Contact a Will County Child Custody Attorney
The Foray Firm is skilled at protecting the relationship between a parent and their child, no matter the circumstances. Our experienced Markham child custody lawyers will assess your situation and do everything in our power to help you maintain a strong bond with your child. Call us at 312-702-1293 for a free consultation.