The United States can appear divided over many issues, including the causes and effects of mass incarceration. However, parents can rally around the fact that children are negatively impacted by their guardians’ criminal behavior. Recent research indicates that we do not fully understand the emotional and financial toll of having parents behind bars.

This is one of the reasons that divorced parents may seek full or at least a greater share of child custody if their former spouse is facing legal problems. Some types of criminal behavior, such as chronic drug use, also may other negative effects on children. Direct exposure to drug use is always a negative impression that may prove to haunt a child in later life.

The number of children with at least one incarcerated parent has become a public health hazard. Children of prisoners suffer short- and long-term consequences. The immediate effects may include social isolation and poor psychological health. This may be connected to physical ailments such as obesity, asthma and the effects of anxiety or depression.

A child’s limited exposure to a parent in more positive environments has been shown to ease some of these symptoms. As a result, a family court judge may take a parent’s imprisonment or drug problems into account during custody hearings.

Parents who want full custody for the good of their children can work with an experienced New Hampshire family law attorney to create, negotiate or alter a plan and provide the evidence required by the court to make these changes that are necessary for their child’s health and well-being.