Court: Prison Sentence Doesn't Mean Loss Of Parental Rights

April 11, 2014

A court has said the fact that a parent is in prison may not mean his or her parental rights should be terminated.

An Arizona appellate court says judges have leeway in determining whether the length of a parent’s incarceration justifies terminating parental rights.

Under state law, judges can consider if a parent’s imprisonment means the child would be deprived of a normal home.

But the Court of Appeals has upheld a judge’s refusal to terminate those rights for an inmate who could be released within a matter of months. In his case, his daughter was abandoned by her mother.

State officials say the entire length of his sentence matters. The appellate panel however, says the judge was aware of the full sentence but decided the man’s possible early release was enough not to terminate parental rights.