Charges restricting a parent's access to his or her child is a life-changing event. When this occurs, anger and sadness are just a few emotions that can occur. Restrictions usually follow if a parent has committed some crime. There are, however, ways to protect yourself in cases where your rights to your children are threatened. If you have committed a crime and you are trying to keep your parental rights, here is what you need to know.
Parental Rights in North Carolina
Parental rights are generally protected by both federal and state laws. The North Carolina Supreme Court, in McIntyre v. McIntyre (1995) found that parents have a "paramount right ... to custody, care and nurture of their children." Likewise, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Troxel v. Granville (2000) that parents have a fundamental right to "make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children."
North Carolina's House attempted to codify parental rights in 2015. According to House Bill 847, a parent's fundamental rights would have included:
- The care, education, and upbringing of a child.
- The liberty of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, and care of his or her child; and, care, control, and custody of a child.
- The right to important health and medical decisions which may directly impact the child.
Though the Bill passed the House, it did not in the Senate. As a result, North Carolina does not currently have a defined parental rights statute in place to protect parental rights for either parent of a child.
Crime and Parental Rights
If you are a parent and you have committed a crime in the past, then parental rights can be rescinded. According to State Law 7B–1111, parental rights can be terminated if:
- The parent has abused or neglected their child.
- The child has been placed in the custody of a county department of social services and the parent has not paid for the care, education, or support of the child for six months.
- The parent has committed a felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child, another child of the parent, or other child residing in the home.
A sequence of steps must be followed to ensure that parental rights are legally terminated. These steps, along with their requirements, are below:
- Filing a petition or motion in support of termination of parental rights.
- Drafting a petition in accordance with State Law 7B–1104.
- Attending a pre-trial hearing.
- Attending adjudicatory hearing to determine the status of parental rights.
- The presiding judge issues a declaration announcing the end of the parental rights in question.
What to Do if You have Committed a Crime
If you have committed a crime and wish to retain your parental rights, it is important to have attorneys that will properly represent you. Parental rights are important, and so is protecting them if a parent is potentially innocent. To ensure that those rights are retained, experienced attorneys are needed. If you have committed a crime and you are trying to keep your parental rights, contact Caulder and Valentine for a consultation and for more information.