Family & Children:

Reunification & Other Family-Related Issues

The FAMILY & CHILDREN CHAPTER will give you an overview of the issues that parents and caregivers experience when trying to reconnect with and care for their children, as well as legal issues that arise during incarceration related to children, spouses/partners, and other family-related issues. This Chapter will teach you how to establish or re-establish your rights, responsibilities, and relationship with your child(ren), and how to navigate the family court systems so that you can best handle any issues related to custody, guardianship, juvenile dependency/CPS cases, visitation, child support, spousal support, paternity, and ending marriages or domestic partnerships.

DISCLAIMER – YOUR RESPONSIBILITY WHEN USING THIS GUIDE: When putting together the Roadmap to Reentry: A California Legal Guide, we did our best to give you useful and accurate information. However, the laws change frequently and are subject to differing interpretations. We do not always have the resources to make changes to this informational material every time the law changes. If you use information from the Roadmap to Reentry legal guide, it is your responsibility to make sure that the law has not changed and applies to your particular situation. If you are incarcerated, most of the materials you need should be available in your institution’s law library. The Roadmap to Reentry guide is not intending to give legal advice, but rather legal information. No attorney-client relationship is created by using any information in this guide. You should always consult your own attorney if you need legal advice specific to your situation.

WHAT WILL I LEARN in the Family & children chapter?

  1. Introduction

    1. Key Terms in the Family & Children Chapter

    2. The Impact of a Criminal Record on a Legal Case About Your Child or Grandchild

  2. The Rights of Parents & Grandparents

    1. Any Automatic Rights?

  3. Basic Steps to Reconnect with Your Child or Grandchild

    1. I am in reentry, and I want to reconnect with my child or grandchild. Where can I start?
  4. Defining Custody & Visitation

    1. What do custody and visitation have to do with my reentry?
    2. Custody

    3. Visitation

  5. Judges, Courts & the “Best Interest of the Child” Legal Standard

    1. Why would the courts be involved in my family matters?
    2. What factors does a judge look at when making a decision about custody and visitation with my child/grandchild?
    3. I have a history of substance abuse. How will this impact my ability to reconnect with my child or grandchild?
    4. Would it help my family law case to clean up my record?
  6. Protective Court Orders & “NO-CONTACT” CONDITIONS

    1. I believe there is a protective order or “no-contact” condition against me. What can I do?
    2. What could happen if I violate a court’s protective order or a “no-contact” condition of my supervision?
    3. How do I challenge a protective order or “no-contact” condition of my parole or probation?
    4. Additional Restrictions from Parole or Probation & Your General Rights

  7. The Three Courts that Handle Family MATTERS & Navigating Them

    1. Introduction to the Three Courts that Handle Family & Children Matters

  8. Family Court

    1. What is family court?
    2. Why would I go to family court to reconnect with my child or grandchild?
    3. How can a judge’s decision in family court affect my rights as a parent?
    4. How can a judge’s decision in family court affect my rights as a grandparent?
    5. How will a family court judge decide if I get custody or visitation with my child or grandchild?
    6. Are there any convictions that will automatically ban me from reconnecting with my child or grandchild in family court?
    7. What can I show the family court judge that custody or visitation with me is in the “best interest of the child”?
    8. What can I do to show mitigating circumstances related to my criminal record?
    9. What are alternatives to reconnecting with my child/grandchild without going to family court?
  9. Probate Court Guardianships

    1. What is probate court?
    2. Why would I have to go to probate court to reconnect with my child or grandchild?
    3. CHART: How is guardianship different than adoption or foster care?
    4. Scenario 1: Reconnecting with your Child in Probate Court

    5. Scenario 2: Becoming the Probate Guardian of Someone Else’s Child When You Have a Record

  10. Juvenile dependency court

    1. What is juvenile dependency court?
    2. Why would i go to juvenile dependency court?
    3. Scenario 1: Reconnecting with your Child(ren) in Dependency Court

    4. Scenario 2: Becoming a Foster Care Parent or Guardian of Someone Else’s Child through Juvenile Dependency Court

  11. Juvenile Deliquency Court: Just the Basics

    1. What is juvenile delinquency court?
    2. How could a case in juvenile delinquency court affect my ability to reconnect with my child in my reentry?
    3. What could happen to my parental rights if my child has a case in juvenile delinquency court?
    4. Could my criminal record affect my child’s case in juvenile delinquency court?
  12. Becoming an Adoptive Parent with a Record

    1. What is adoption?
    2. What is the background check process for potential adoptive parents?
    3. Can I adopt a child if I have a criminal record?
    4. My child was adopted out while I was incarcerated. What can I do to reconnect?
  13. Family Issues Inside Prison or Jail

    1. Pregnancy & Mothering While Incarcerated

    2. Restrictions on Children Visiting Currently Incarcerated Parents

    3. Paternity/Parentage Issues

  14. Ending a Marriage or Domestic Partnership (Divorce & Separation)

    1. Can I end a marriage or domestic partnership while I am incarcerated?
    2. divorce Questions while incarcerated & after release from prison or jail

  15. Managing & Navigating Spousal & Child Support

    1. What is a family-related court-ordered debt?
    2. How will owing family-related court-ordered debts affect my reentry?
    3. Child Support Debt

    4. Spousal Support Debt

  16. Domestic Violence & Restraining orders

    1. Overview of Domestic Violence restraining orders & Violations