The good news is, that custody of a child when you have a criminal record, isn’t impossible. The courts may consider some violent or child-related criminal charges or convictions as evidence that a parent is unfit, or cannot provide the best atmosphere for the child. Every case is unique, and for specifics it is best to consult a family attorney.
Child custody cases are often very contentious, and allegations are thrown back and forth trying to get the judge to side with one parent or the other. One allegation is that one of the parents has been involved and charged in some sort of criminal behavior.
One scenario in which the courts may be inclined to one parent or the other, is that the criminal activity related to would not be in the best interests of the child. What is in the best interests of the child is what is considered when deciding a custody case. The criminal history and character of both parents may come into play.
The morality of the criminal act may also be used to judge whether the parent is fit to have custody (or even unsupervised visitation) with the child. Consulting a child custody attorney is necessary when dealing with the specifics of criminal charges or any serious child custody issue.
There are also other pertinent factors that affect the custody decision, some are:
- Age of the Child
- The relationship between the parents
- The relationship between the child and each of the parents
- The current living conditions of the parent
- Whether there are siblings involved
When considering how important criminal history is, the court may consider who the victim of the crime was, what type of offense was committed, how long ago the offense occurred, and the type of sentence the parent received and if there is a pattern of criminal behavior and multiple convictions.
If the crimes involved domestic violence or drug or alcohol abuse, the court may believe that these crimes will have a direct impact on the person’s ability to effectively parent the child. Violent crimes may make the court fear for the safety of the child.
Drug convictions may make the court order a drug test for the parent to determine if he or she is still using drugs. The court uses the best interests of the child standard, with broad discretion however, and has the ability to award different types of custody based on the criminal activity charge, and other factors.
The court may:
- Award custody to one parent alone
- Award joint custody
- Award visitation only or supervised visitation
- Restrict visitation altogether in extreme cases
Custody cases are intricate and a lot of information is gone over by the court in order to award custody and do what is in the best interests of the child. If you are involved in a custody negotiation, you should retain a local family law attorney who will investigate all the aspects affecting custody (especially a criminal background). A family law attorney will be able to present the evidence in a way that helps get you the outcome you desire and to do what’s in the best interest of your child.
What Not to Do During a Custody Battle
If you have a criminal record and are in a child custody battle refrain from doing the following:
- Avoid verbal confrontations with the ex-spouse and/or children.
- Avoid physical confrontation with the ex-spouse and/or children.
- Avoid exposing your child to new partners.
- Avoid criticizing the other parent to legal parties, family, or friends.
- Avoid missing child support payments and agreed upon family responsibilities.
- Avoid overindulgence in alcohol, and of course all drug use.
- Don’t Lie.
- Don’t cut off the other parent.
- Don’t disappear.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help, especially from your family law attorney.
Domestic violence can be a major situation in child custody cases. These types of crimes are very relevant to the outcome of a custody battle. Many states have a domestic violence presumption in which the court is permitted to assume that it is not in the best interest of the child for the abusive parent to have custody or visitation of the child. This is particularly true when the violence is perpetrated against the child.
Take the advice and guidance of the family law attorney who is handling your case. Remember that a child custody case is overflowing with emotion. At any time your emotions may take over, and a single irrational action taken in anger can destroy your ability to have the custody case work out favorably. Your child custody lawyer’s job entails helping you to do the very best for your family.
What do Judges Look for In a Child Custody Case?
Judges most always decide custody on the best interests of the child. That is their guiding star in custody cases. Time and atonement means a lot to your case and after all is said, a criminal record may definitely not bar you from having custody of your child. Very old criminal cases may show the judge that the parent has paid their dues, changed their life, and has the right to have custody of their child. Crimes that don’t involve drugs or violence may even have a negligible effect on the custody negotiation.
Keeping in mind that what is in the child’s best interest is paramount, the advice, direction, diligence, and guidance of a local family law and child custody attorney is very important to the success of your custody battle. You and your family matter. Retain a family law attorney who will bring compassion and knowledge to your case and get the best outcome for you, your child, and your family.