Will I Lose Custody Of My Child Because I Am Undocumented?

As more undocumented immigrants become susceptible to deportation, more families are having to make decisions about who will maintain custody of their children, particularly when those children are American-born citizens. In some cases, a documented parent may threaten an undocumented parent to take custody of the children or report the parent to immigration due to his or her undocumented status. The fact is that immigration status is not a reason alone to deprive a parent of child custody. California law specifically provides that the immigration status of a parent, legal guardian, or relative, does not disqualify him or her from receiving custody of a child. As a result, there is no reason to delay seeking custody of a child. It is far better to go to family court and establish a child custody order than waiting until there is an emergency and trying to do so. The family court’s job is not to inquire about your immigration status; rather, its job is to decide what custody arrangement is in your child’s best interests. The more difficult situation occurs when a child ends up in foster care because one or both undocumented parents are deported. Once a parent is returned to what is often a small town in Mexico or Central America, the resources that the parent needs to regain custody of his or her child often do not exist. For instance, a parent may need to complete parenting classes, psychiatric evaluations, and substance abuse treatment, none of which may be easily available to him or her. As a result, the danger is that a court may choose to cut the family ties between parent and child, simply because the parent has been deported and is unable to complete the case plan requirements. Nonetheless, California law is clear that a parent or relative cannot be denied consideration for placement of a child simply due to immigration status. Plus, the state must make reasonable efforts to reunify a child with a deported parent or parents. Individuals who are detained and/or facing deportation need an experienced California immigration attorney who can assist them with this often complex process. We are here to stand up for the rights of detained immigrants, including the parental rights of detainees. At Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., we know how to represent the rights of those who are legally entitled to remain in the U.S. Call us today at (510) 491-0291 and schedule an appointment with one of our deportation defense lawyers, and learn how we can assist you.

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