The Pennsylvania Law Weekly recently reported on a case in which the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County, PA recently terminated the parental rights of both the mother and father of three children. Both parents were alleged drug and alcohol addicts, the mother had committed herself to a psychiatric facility, and the father had been incarcerated for two years.
The issue came to the court after Children and Youth Services (CYS) filed an application for emergency protective custody of the three minor children in March of 2011. At that time, the children were placed in CYS’ custody, and they have been there ever since.

The court found that the Mother failed to show any interest in her children’s well-being after they were placed in the custody of CYS. The court also found that she did not make any progress in carrying out her family service plan. Accordingly, the court terminated her rights.

The court also terminated the rights of the children’s father. The court noted that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that parent is not disqualified from resuming responsibilities because he or she is in prison. Instead, the court must consider the length of the incarceration and whether the parent will be able to timely begin the reunification process.

Here, the court held that although the father had made some effort to comply with the family service plan and keep in touch with the family’s caseworker, his extended incarceration had left the children without any parental figure for the past two years. The court also found even though he anticipated to be released in May 2013, the father’s frequent failure to comply with his parole provisions would disrupt any prospect of immediate reunification with his children.

This case was extreme in its termination of both parents’ custodial rights. Even for average families, though, custody can be a struggle. Please do not hesitate to contact the family law attorneys at Petrelli Previtera to get help with your divorce, custody, and support matters.