Guardianship Lawyer in Tampa, FL Guardianship Lawyer in Tampa, FL 

How Is Child Custody Impacted When a Parent Goes to Jail? 

There are few life transitions more unnerving for a child than when a parent begins a period of incarceration, as a guardianship lawyer in Tampa, FL . Even if a parent is only gone for a few weeks, the change in circumstance can be a lot for a child to process. The situation may become even more challenging if it is the child’s primary caregiver who must serve time outside the home. Depending on the child’s age, the second most pressing question on his or her mind (after “When does my mom/dad get to come home?”) is likely to be, “What is going to happen to me?”


Understanding how child custody arrangements may be impacted by a parent’s incarceration will help you to explain the answer to this question to an affected child. For better and for worse, there are few hard and fast answers to this question. The single “universal” answer has to do with the standard that judges use to make determinations in cases like this. Regardless of a child’s custody situation, any changes must be made in accordance with the “best interests of the child” standard.


The Best Interests of the Child


Judges must base all child custody decisions on “the best interests of the child.” Obviously, this standard is somewhat subjective, as what one person believes is in a child’s best interests does not always match the belief of another interested party. As a result, there is no single “formula” for meeting the baseline of this standard. Guardianship lawyers in Tampa, FL for all interested individuals will make different arguments about the affected child’s best interests and a judge will weigh each of these arguments.


Who Is Going to Jail and for How Long?


The outcome in a child custody case affected by a parent’s incarceration is primarily affected by answering the questions, “Which parent is being incarcerated?” and “For how long is this parent likely to be serving time?” If the child’s primary custodial parent is not being jailed, the child is likely to remain in the care of that parent. But if the child’s primary custodial parent is going to be serving any significant length of time, temporary or permanent modifications are likely to be applied to that child’s custody orders.


If the child’s other parent is fit and wishes to take custody of the child, he or she will likely be granted custody unless this arrangement is not in the child’s best interests. It is possible that remaining in the care of a stepparent, a grandparent, an adult sibling or another relative would be preferable under the circumstances. If no fit relatives or loved ones are able and willing to take custody, the child may be temporarily placed into the foster care system.


Child Custody Assistance Is Available


If you have questions about child custody generally or how incarceration may affect your child’s custody arrangements specifically, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with an experienced Tampa, FL custody lawyer. The best interests of the child standard may be applied in different ways, depending on the needs of a specific child and/or family. Speaking with an attorney will allow you a better understanding of how this standard may be applied in your child’s situation. After learning about your legal options, you and your guardianship lawyer in Tampa, FL from The Mckinney Law Group will be able to craft a strong legal strategy that advances your child’s best interests.