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Question

Do convicted felons still retain custody rights?

Answer

Becoming a convicted felon does not automatically end your parental rights to your children. Obviously, if you are incarcerated you won't be able to physically have your children [that is, you can't take your kids with you in jail or prison - they will be in someone else's physical custody while you are incarcerated]. The rights to have custody of your children upon your release from jail will depend entirely upon what the situation is with your family and with your prison sentence.

First, we must consider whether or not CPS [Child Protective Services] is involved in your family situation. If they are NOT involved, then chances are you will remain the parent of your children. This is assuming that you are not going through a divorce, and dealing with custody rights with your spouse.

If CPS is involved in your family situation, then the rights you have to custody of your children upon your release depends upon a lot of things. The most important factor determining whether or not your custody rights will be lost is the length of time you will be incarcerated. Another important factor in determining whether or not you will lose custody rights is the reason why you are incarcerated.

If you are in jail for a very long time, OR, if you are incarcerated for a crime committed against a minor, then CPS may be able to terminate your parental rights. You don't have to be in jail for a long time to lose your parental rights if you are in jail for committing a crime against a child. Also, if your crime is in no way related to crimes against children, you could still lose your parental rights if you are in jail for a very long time. Of course, if you are not going to be in jail for a long time, AND, you are NOT in jail for anything relating to crimes against children, then CPS will not likely have any basis for terminating your parental rights to your children [based upon your incarceration alone].

To read Arizona Law which covers this situation, see A.R.S. 8-533(B)(4).

Added:
Friday, 23 July 2010
Revised:
Friday, 23 July 2010

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