Technically, each child custody case is determined by what the judge thinks is in the best interest of the child. Because the activities of parents matter in such cases, one or multiple criminal convictions will be a deciding factor in the judge’s custody orders. When a judge is making these decisions, they usually review certain factors, including parents’ criminal history. The weight of your convictions will be dependent on a few things:
- Who was the victim of the offense?
- What type of offense did you commit?
- How old you were when you committed the offense.
- What was the sentence?
- How many convictions do you have?
If you are in the middle of a child custody dispute and have a criminal history, the judge will probably ask about the relationship between you and the victim of your crime. If the crime is psychologically or emotionally damaging towards your children, the court can and probably will limit your custody arrangement and visitation rights. If you have committed a crime against your child once, you may do it again and that is the concern of the judge. If the conviction involves sexual abuse or serious physical assault, then you may face termination of your parental rights.
If your conviction was violent, (i.e. domestic abuse, assault, stalking etc.), then that will hold more weight in the judge’s consideration. The court may be concerned about anger or violent issues if you have these types of convictions, so you may have restricted or no custody arrangement. There are many states that will allow the authorization of a “domestic violence presumption” if an ex-spouse can establish a history of abuse. The court is legally allowed to assume that the parent convicted of a violent offense may abuse the children and should be restricted or denied access to their children.
Drug- Related Offenses
Although a drug conviction may not technically be a violent crime, it may still cause issues if you are seeking a custody arrangement. The court will test you as soon as they become aware of a drug-related conviction and a positive test will probably result in supervised visitation, if not complete revocation of parental rights. A DUI conviction may also hinder your chances of a custody arrangement. A family judge may view a DUI charge as behavior that may put the children in danger should you be responsible for transportation.
Seeking Legal Assistance
There is no perfect formula for predicting how your custody battle will be affected by your prior convictions. However, the guidance of lawyer, like a family attorney Tampa FL relies on, may provide you a better chance of understanding how your case will be viewed by the judge. If you have questions about how your convictions will hurt your case, consider calling a family law attorney for a free consultation about the particular details of the case.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Mckinney Law Group for their insight into family law.