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What to Know About Parental Rights After NY Criminal Conviction

by | Nov 14, 2023 | Child Custody and Support NY

Even in the best of situations, parents face many unexpected challenges on their journeys to raise their children. When family legal issues, such as a criminal conviction, enters the picture, things can become exponentially more complicated. Parents may be at risk of losing their rights to be involved in their children’s lives. Learn how you can navigate this emotionally charged territory and protect the best interests of your children, and yourself.

Understanding How Criminal Convictions Impact Parental Rights

The consequences of a criminal conviction are far-reaching, especially for parents who are involved in family legal issues like divorce and child custody. While parents who commit crimes are at risk of losing their rights, this doesn’t happen automatically after a conviction.

Courts must determine if the parent’s criminal behavior actually poses a safety risk to the child, since the law recognizes that children benefit greatly when they maintain a meaningful relationship with their caregivers.

The Legal Process for Deciding Parental Rights Post-Conviction

Determining whether a parent’s criminal history will affect their rights usually involves multiple assessments, hearings, and meetings with child advocacy professionals. A key consideration is the nature and severity of the parent’s criminal actions.

Crimes that are related to child abuse, endangerment, or other serious offenses typically raise immediate concerns with family courts or child protective services. Even so, parents are usually given a chance to show they’re committed to providing a safe and stable environment for their child.

Alternatives to the Termination of Parental Rights

If a child needs protection, but it’s not in their best interests to sever the parent-child relationship, a court may decide to explore alternatives like:

Supervised Visitation

Supervised visitation is a court-ordered arrangement where a trained professional oversees the interaction between a parent and their child for a specific period of time. The goal of supervised visitation is to create a safe and supportive environment for the child that allows them to cultivate a rewarding relationship with their caregiver without putting the child at risk.

During the visit, the supervisor will document the interaction for the court to review later. They will also intervene on the spot if the parent neglects to follow visitation guidelines or engages in any behavior that poses a risk to the child’s safety. This could include warning the parent, ending the session early, or removing the child from the situation entirely and filing a petition to formally terminate that parent’s rights.

Supervised visitation is often complemented by additional supportive services, like counseling or parenting classes. These resources help provide parents who have criminal convictions the framework they need to rebuild a healthy and safe relationship with their child.

Reunification Therapy

Reunification is a specific therapeutic approach designed to help mend fractured family relationships after divorce, separation, or a parent’s criminal conviction. Within this framework, parents and children can work together with a trained therapist to rebuild trust and improve communication.

Reunification therapy is most often used in cases where there has been a disruption to the parent-child relationship, but a court determines that the child’s best interests are served by reintegrating the parent into the child’s life.

Fighting to Keep Your Parental Rights

If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been convicted of a crime and a court is considering limiting your parental rights, it’s important that you take action right away. Don’t wait for the court to decide whether you are a fit parent – instead, take the initiative to show the court that you’re serious about rehabilitation and becoming a safe and stable part of your child’s life.

How Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. Can Help Protect Your Parental Rights

Working with a qualified Long Island, NY family lawyer is key to successfully keeping your parental rights after a criminal conviction. We can help you show the court that it’s in your child’s best interests for their relationship with you to remain intact and can fight for alternative options like supervised visitation or reunification therapy if you’re at risk of losing your rights.

Contact us today to learn more about how to protect your relationship with your child after a criminal conviction or to schedule your free initial consultation by calling 631-923-1910 or filling in the short form on this page.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
Divorce Lawyer Long Island New York
Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
Paul Carmichael
Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.
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