Mother incarcerated for murder wins visitation rights

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Family Law on Monday, September 24, 2012.

A judge has ruled that a mother appealing her murder case is entitled to visitation rights with her two children. This family law case brings hope to Virginia parents facing serious criminal charges but who still want to maintain a relationship with their minor children.

An Iowa jury convicted the mother of murder after a criminal investigation found that she had executed a man who was not the children's father. Although the details of her underlying conviction may strike some as heinous, the judge presiding over the custody dispute distinguished the criminal conviction from the woman's role as a mother. Ultimately, the judge determined that it was in the best interests of the children to award the mother visitation rights.

The judge's order provides that the children's father must bring the children to visit their mother in jail while she appeals her murder conviction. The father must also provide his address so that the mother can send letters and call her children on their birthdays.

As in this case, in Virginia, an incarcerated parent may be entitled to visitation rights. This is because Virginia judges must consider a host of factors when awarding visitation. Some of the factors include the following: the need for a stable home environment, the age and sex of the child; the mental and physical health of the parent and the child's wishes.

Virginia parents facing criminal charges that threaten their parental rights should not give up hope on having a relationship with their child. The incarcerated mother's story reminds parents that the law separates the criminal system from family law cases and works in the best interests of children, no matter what criminal charges are at issue.

Source: The Washington Post, "Prosecutor outraged over decision giving mom convicted in Iowa slaying prison visits with kids," Sept. 13, 2012

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