Incarceration of a parent can obviously be damaging to children, giving them a sense of abandonment and isolation. The impact can result in life-long anxiety, depression, and social difficulties.
It’s a monumental problem in our state. Indiana currently has the second highest rate of incarcerated parents in the nation, just behind Kentucky. Roughly 11 percent of children in the state have dealt with their parents spending time in jail at some point.
Lawmakers take action
In order to mitigate the problem of children being separated from their parents, the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis has devised a program to allow some incarcerated mothers to care for their newborns in a prison nursery.
This issue has caught the attention of some state lawmakers, who seek to expand parental options for those serving time. State Representative Karlee Macer (D-Indianapolis) has authored House Bill 1432 (co-authored by Rep. Gregory Steuerwald and Rep. Vanessa Summers), which is designed to provide more opportunities for incarcerated parents to be involved in the lives of their children.
Incarcerated parents would be allowed to discuss legal matters regarding their children before a judge and work out options for parental involvement.
These options include:
- Affording parents visitation opportunities in order to maintain parent-child relationships.
- Determining whether parent-child relationships are valid, depending on:
- The quality of the relationship prior to incarceration, or how much of a role a parent played in a child’s life.
- Whether a parent’s incarceration was a factor in child services or county probation department involvement for 15 of the past 22 months.
If a child spent 15 of the past 22 months in foster care, Indiana is required to file for termination of parental rights, pursuant to the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). If a child is in the care of a relative or if foster care isn’t fit for a child’s needs, a judge may make exceptions to avoid terminating parental rights.
Why it’s important to seek legal representation
For the time being, HB 1432 has passed the committee and has been sent to the Indiana House of Representatives. The legal team at Hocker & Associates LLC will be on top of this law, regardless of how this bill might impact our clients.
If you believe the provisions of HB 1432 could be a factor for your children, it’s crucial that you speak to family lawyer Rachel A. East. She possesses a wealth of legal knowledge and experience helping parents develop child custody arrangements, modifying custody orders, and protecting parents from termination of custody.
To discuss your matter and explore your legal options, contact her today.