Losing More Than Custody: the ASFA Can Mean Losing Your Children Permanently

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jan 02, 2023 | 0 Comments

In 1997 President Clinton signed into law the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Designed to address what was perceived as chronic problems with the nation's child welfare system, the ASFA required states to establish procedures that would terminate parental rights in cases where children had spent 15 out of 22 months in foster care and would allow the children to be put up for adoption.

The ASFA has had a significant impact on many families where parents are jailed for long periods of time, and in some cases can act as a double penalty beyond incarceration. Parents who have served their time and are now moving forward with productive lives are often unable to have any contact with children who have been adopted as a result of the ASFA, compounding the many difficulties of having a criminal past. Critics have called for a re-evaluation or repeal of the ASFA in light of what they view as its uneven impact across racial and class lines.

A Conviction Can Mean More Than a Jail Sentence

If you have children and have been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania that could result in a jail sentence, you need to consider not only the impact this could have on your own life but also on the lives of your children as well. If you are not able to care for your kids because you're in prison and no suitable relative can step in, your children will end up in foster care. And if over a 22-month period, they spend 15 months in foster care, you stand a real risk of losing custody permanently. Your children may then be put up for adoption, and you may lose contact with them completely.

You Need a Strong Defense

This is why you need to mount a strong defense against any criminal charge, particularly where a conviction carries the risk of jail time. Joseph D. Lento has years of experience representing clients charged with serious crimes in Pennsylvania and other states. He knows how to defend your rights and make sure you receive strong and effective representation, and in cases where his clients have children, he can help increase the chances that permanent custody will remain with the original parent.

Expungement May be a Possibility

If you have convictions in your past that are threatening to disrupt your ability to get a good job, secure safe housing, or retain custody of your children, you should contact Joseph D. Lento to ask about the possibility of having one or more of the convictions expunged. While not every conviction is eligible for expungement, for those that are, it can be a tremendous relief and genuine help to be able to move through life with a clean record.

Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm

The ASFA's severe consequences – losing custody of your children permanently and having them endure being adopted – means you need strong, effective, and knowledgeable representation if you have been charged with a crime. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have the experience you need to make sure your rights are protected. And if you are curious about how to go about expunging an old conviction from your record, Joseph D. Lento has been helping clients through that process for years. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 or online to learn about how they can help.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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