Does a Criminal Record Affect Child Custody?

Marriage is (almost) always a highly celebrated event. However, for between 40 and 50% of all couples that tie the knot, a challenging (and usually less celebrated) divorce is in the cards.

Divorces are often messy.  And, of course, having children complicates them in many ways.  One complication that many people don’t think of as their marriage withers, however, is, how a persons past transgressions might affect child custody.  More specifically, does a criminal record affect child custody?

Find out what you need to know about criminal records and child custody during and after your divorce here. 

Does a Criminal Record Affect Child Custody: Who Was the Victim?

Have you been convicted of abusing your child, or did you get in a bar fight after a few too many drinks? Both of these examples of potentially violent behavior will reflect poorly to a judge the quality of your decision making, having a history of abusing your own child will undoubtedly carry a much greater weight!

It is very likely that if you are judged to exhibit a risk for further abuse or neglect, your visitations will be supervised at a minimum. You will also have a harder time getting full or split custody.

Keep in mind that if you seriously injured your victim, child or not, a judge could even terminate your parental rights.

Specific Nature of Your Record

Just like it matters who the victim was, the type of crime will be important when your custody rights are being considered. If you have any domestic violence or child abuse/neglect convictions, you will have a tougher battle to fight.

These charges, in addition to assault charges, will make a judge concerned about anger management issues.

Drug charges are not technically ‘violent’ charges, but may negatively affect your desire for custody or shared custody as well.  A common requirement for this situation is submitting to regular drug testing.

How Long Ago was the Crime

There is a difference between a drunk in public charge from 20 years ago and an assault charge one year ago. If you had an old charge that did not turn into a pattern of violent or unlawful behavior for you, you can make a strong case that you are not that person anymore.

If it is clear that you have changed and haven’t had similar issues since the charge, it will likely not impact your custody situation.

But, if you have recurring charges throughout the years, especially if they are recent, your custody and visitation agreement could be limited. Multiple charges point to a person who cannot follow court orders, and that has other unaddressed challenges.

A judge will not want to place children with a parent who may or may not be back on probation or even in jail in a few months.

Understanding the Impact of Your Record

As you can see, it is a complicated answer to the question, “Does a criminal record affect child custody?” Regardless of your situation, there is always hope.

In a difficult situation and need some legal advice? Please contact us, and we would be happy to discuss your situation and possible solutions.

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