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Deportation fears lead to child custody concerns

Immigrant families in Ohio and across the country are worried about the impact of detention and deportation on their children. Many undocumented people have children who were born in the U.S. and who are thus considered American citizens. While the parents could be threatened with detention or deportation, especially amid the intensified and public campaign around immigration issues, these children have the right to stay in the United States and continue their lives. However, without their parents by their side, they are also at risk of being thrown into the social services system.

Legal clinics, volunteer lawyers and churches are working to prevent negative outcomes for the children of undocumented families by setting up emergency child custody legal advice centers. Here, lawyers and students help undocumented families to prepare paperwork to name people as the legal guardians for their children in case the parents are detained or deported.

A number of undocumented families have steered clear of seeking legal advice because of their concerns that they could be putting themselves or their children at risk. These legal clinics aim to provide a safe environment to handle the issues related to child custody worrying immigrant families living in the U.S. without documents.

Child custody issues can arise in an array of routine or unexpected circumstances. When parents divorce, handling child custody and visitation can be a challenging concern of the highest priority to both parents. In less common circumstances, custody issues can arise as well. For example, siblings may be seeking custody of their younger brothers or sisters after the death or incarceration of their parents. In similar circumstances, grandparents may also seek custody of young children. A family law attorney can often provide advice in these types of situations.

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