Mississippi Divorce Attorney Talks about Arrests and Custody Disputes

In some child custody disputes, questions regarding custody arise when one parent is arrested and subsequently incarcerated. A couple in Texas is currently navigating this type of situation. The estranged parents of a four year old had been ordered by the court to share custody. Sometimes, parents are able to make shared custody work for them. At other times, parents have issues with communication, scheduling, or other things, and there is a great deal of conflict over sharing custody. This case is a situation in which the custody battle has been both complicated and contentious.

Things just got even more complicated for the family because the child’s father was recently arrested for assaulting his estranged wife, who is the child’s mother. After the arrest, shared custody and an alternating visitation schedule continued. The father is now in jail after surrendering to assault charges, and the mother is seeking custody of the child.

The four year old was in his father’s care when the father was arrested, and the boy’s mother was not told where he was after the arrest. It is likely that he was in the care of his paternal grandmother, but the grandmother would not return the mother’s calls. The boy’s mother has enlisted the aid of the local sheriff’s office, the police department in the town where the child’s grandmother lives, and even child protective services. She is concerned that the grandmother may have taken the child to Mississippi for a vacation, which could complicate matters even more.

In Mississippi child custody cases, modification of a custody order is possible if there is a material change in circumstances, that the change adversely affects the child’s welfare, and that a change in custody would serve the best interest of the child. Cantin v.Cantin, 78 So. 3d 943, 948 Miss. Ct. App. 2012. Since the aforementioned case is taking place in Texas, the criteria for modifying custody may be different than they are in Mississippi, but the case is worth mentioning because it is possible to predict what would likely happen if a similar situation were to take place in Mississippi.

The incarceration of a parent is an event that could, depending upon the circumstances and other factors like the length of time that the parent is expected to remain in jail, be considered a material change in circumstances because it renders that parent unavailable to provide care and supervision for the child. Depending upon the nature of the offense, it is likely arguable in many cases that the parent’s incarceration and the conduct that preceded it have a negative impact on the child’s well-being. The factor which might weigh most heavily on whether a court would modify custody would then become the third requirement for modification, which is whether the proposed change in custody would serve the welfare of the child. If the parent seeking custody is able to provide a stable home environment, they would likely prevail. Likewise, if the parent seeking custody has not been arrested but is unable to show that their home is a stable, safe, and otherwise suitable environment, they would not likely be granted custody.

If you have questions about your Mississippi child custody case, Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole is here to serve you. Please call my office today, at (601) 573-7429 today, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

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Mississippi Divorce Attorney Talks about Arrests and Custody Disputes
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Mississippi Divorce Attorney discuss how arrests may affect a child custody dispute.

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