It is very unfortunate, but everyone lives in a day and age where both parents are regarded as having rights to the children. For a very long time, mothers had no rights, and then the tables flipped at the turn of the century and fathers had no rights. Now, both biological parents have rights unless there is an extenuating circumstance that one parent not have any parental rights at all. Sadly, being a convicted criminal does not prevent you from having legal rights and access to a child. Here is what you need to know about convicted criminals and child custody laws, and why you absolutely should hire a child custody attorney.
A Parent Is a Parent, No Matter What
The juvenile court systems in this country believe that a parent is a parent, no matter what, and that children should have access to both parents at all times or as often as possible. If your ex is in prison, there is not a whole lot you can do there, unless your ex's lawyer files for a visitation order that forces you to bring the children into the prison to see their father/mother. As dangerous as that sounds unless your lawyer can prove that it would be detrimental to the children's physical, emotional, and/or psychological well-being, the judge will grant your ex that right to make that legal request.
Even Abusive Parents Have Rights
Unless it has been proven that continued access to the children will result in their death or in rape, sodomy, incest, and/or pregnancy as the result of incest, your ex can have contact. If there is suspicion of inappropriate behavior, or there was proof but it was not heard in court or dismissed by a judge for technicalities, your lawyer can request supervised visits when the children see the other parent. As for any other type of abuse, (e.g., emotional, psychological, verbal, financial, etc.,) the courts do not recognize these forms of abuse because parents have overused these types of abuse in the past to prevent the other parent from gaining any custody or visitation rights. You would have to have an overwhelming mountain of video and/or audio evidence, along with the professional assessment of a child psychologist, to even make a case for any of those other kinds of abuse.
Unmarried Biological Parents Have Rights, with One Exception
If you and your ex were not married but had one or more children together, your ex still has rights to see the child and have custody. That includes infants and newborns. The only exception to this rule is the unborn child, for which fathers have no rights in most states.