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Your Guides Through The Legal Process
How your criminal record can affect your custody and visitation rights

A judge considers what’s in a child’s best interests when making decisions in child custody cases. The court may weigh various factors, including your son or daughter’s safety when deciding what custodial agreement is right for them. 

One factor that may lead a judge to question how safe an environment you can provide your child with includes your criminal history. The court will particularly want to know about any past convictions or pending charges for domestic violence and drug or alcohol abuse. These can impact what custodial arrangements the court approves. 

How judges perceive domestic violence

The court may weigh whether a parent’s arrest on domestic violence charges renders them unfit to retain custody of their child. The judge is likely to conclude that’s the case if the suspect parent inflicted violence upon their child or co-parent. (In severe cases, the abusive parent may even lose custody rights altogether.)

A judge may also restrict a parent to supervised visitation pending the adjudication of a domestic violence case. 

Ways judges may respond to drug and alcohol-related crimes

A judge may worry about a parent’s ability to get their child safely back and forth to school and other appointments or activities if they have a conviction on their record for operating while intoxicated (OWI) or drug-related charges.

Even an old conviction can have consequences. The court might worry that a parent hasn’t kicked their substance abuse habit. That could negatively impact their ability to render aid if an emergency happened at home. A judge may also worry about the parent’s social circle and what influence that may have on a child. The above-referenced factors may deter a judge from awarding a parent custodial rights and imposing restrictions on visitation. 

Family law judges must toe the line between protecting a child’s safety and ensuring that they enjoy as close to equal parenting time with both parents — and pending criminal charges and convictions don’t always lead to a reduction or removal of custodial rights. You may be able to present evidence in your court case that shows that you’ve turned over a new leaf. An attorney can help you understand what constitutes a solid argument for custody so that you can craft one in your case.