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Regain child custody despite a criminal past

California parents who worry that their personal histories may prevent them from ever regaining custody of their children, take heart: It is possible to restore child custody rights even for parents with a criminal past. That was demonstrated this week in a recent Georgia case in which a woman was awarded full child custody of her son after proving that she has overcome her drug addiction. The 33-year-old woman had faced serious scrutiny after she left her child in a vehicle outside a retail store in hot weather last summer.

The child’s mother was taken into custody after that incident, during which she attempted to swallow a bottle full of pills that were reportedly found in her vehicle. The woman said that she did not want to get in trouble for having those pills in an improperly marked bottle. She was hospitalized and then charged with tampering with evidence, contributing to the deprivation of a minor and obstruction of an officer.

The woman explains that her arrest caused her to change her life. She completed a residential treatment program and an 18-week outpatient regimen that included drug tests. She has not tested positive for drugs since 2013.

News reports show that the child’s father is upset that full custody was awarded to the woman, though his criminal history is far from clean; that man has been charged with attempted bank robbery, along with failure to pay required child support. His new wife also has a history of theft and shoplifting. The father plans to appeal the child custody decision.

This case demonstrates the possibilities for parents who have previous drug convictions or other criminal pasts. Family courts are bound to act in a just manner toward parents who have made good-faith efforts to regain custody of their children. Parents who have truly turned their lives around should be given chances to appeal child custody decisions.

Source: Source: Rockdale News, "Woman who left son in car wins custody," Kayla Robins, July 11, 2014

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