Divorce: What happens to parental rights if incarcerated?

Incarceration in prison can jeopardize the chances of a continued relationship between a Louisiana parent and his or her children. The law typically protects parental rights after a divorce, but a parent in jail loses most of those rights. Although that person will still be regarded as a parent, his or her involvement in parenting can be compromised.

An integral part of parenting is interaction and participation in a child's life and it is in the power of the other parent to stop all contact between an incarcerated parent and their child. The parent who is behind bars cannot force the other parent to bring a minor child to visit him or her in jail. Although inmates may make phone calls from inside the prison, the other parent has the right to refuse the calls, or not to allow the child to communicate with the incarcerated parent.

Writing letters may be an option, but there is no guarantee that the other parent will deliver the mail to their child, and he or she can also stop a child from sending mail to the parent in prison. An incarcerated person has no right to any information regarding the child. If joint legal custody is still in place, the detained person's permission may be required for certain medical procedures. However, a free parent can file a motion in the family court for the removal of the incarcerated parent's custodial rights.

Despite being in prison, it would be the wish of almost any Louisiana parent to maintain a parent-child relationship during incarceration. However, to achieve that, that parent will have to take legal action. The most logical step may be to consult with an experienced divorce and family law attorney. A lawyer can assess the circumstances and explain the available options, while providing sound guidance and advocacy.

Source: livestrong.com, "Parental Rights of a Father in Jail", J.E. Myers, Accessed on Jan. 20, 2017

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