If you are seeking custody of your children after you are released from jail, you need to follow a few steps in family court based on where the child was placed during your incarceration. In the state of California, when a parent is sent away for a long period of time the child will either stay with a relative or be placed with special services or foster care.
In most cases, to get custody of your child you will need to petition the court for custody. Accordingly, it is advisable to consult with a divorce attorney to understand your custody rights and responsibilities.
Children Living with Grandparents or Other Family Members
If your child has been living with a grandparent or family member and they have been granted guardianship, you will have to petition the court to get custody of your children. You cannot simply pick up your children or make legal decisions for them without a court order. Although it is emotionally hard to not see or live with your children right away, the law is not necessarily interested in your feelings but rather what is in the best interest of your child. If you take illegal actions, such as taking a child away from their guardian without permission, you can find yourself in jail for an extended time.
When you petition the court to regain custody of your child you will need to prove that you are now a fit parent. Generally, that means that you have a suitable job and that you are not participating in illegal activities that can harm your child. Other requirements may also apply in your case. It is advisable to speak with a local child custody attorney that can advise you on your legal rights as well as responsibilities. It is important to create a strong case that shows that you are serious about your parental responsibilities.
Children in Foster Care
Getting your child back after incarceration can be challenging but you do have rights as a parent. To begin with, child protective services has a legal duty to help reunite families, as long as it is in the best interests of the children. You will need to sit down with an agency representative and make sure you understand what you need to do to improve your chances of getting your child back.
Once you have that information, you will need to make serious effort to show the agency that you are now a fit parent. For many individuals, this means staying out of jail, attending counseling and/or parenting classes, consistently showing up on time during visits and asking for help from the agency personnel when needed. If you are facing multiple challenges and feel you are not getting cooperation from the agency, a family law attorney can help you understand your rights and the appropriate steps to get your kids back. In addition, some men consult with a father’s rights lawyer who frequently represents men in family court.
Always Consider the Child’s Best Interest
Even if your child is living with a relative that does not have guardianship, or if the child is in foster care, it is always in the best interest of the child to give them time to adapt to household changes. This is especially important if they have bonded with caretakers who have provided a safe and stable environment. It can be traumatic for the child to suddenly be pulled from their living situation. Use the time to prepare yourself to be ready again for your role as a parent. You should also speak with a Sacramento family law attorney who can discuss the best options for your specific situation to help you reunite with your child.