Does My Criminal Record Affect My Right to Custody of My Child?

As you may be aware, the court’s primary obligation in child custody cases is to make decisions that are in the best interest of your son or daughter. If you happen to have a criminal record, you may be very nervous about the effect it may have on your chances of getting shared custody with your co-parent.

There are various factors that the court may weigh when deciding what is best for the children. Knowing what these factors are may aid you in building your case for custody.

Factors judges consider when weighing custody

Your child’s safety in your home is of paramount importance to a judge. Factors such as the following may affect the decisions the court renders:

  • The location of a parent’s home and its proximity to family members and school
  • A child’s living preferences (provided that they’re old enough to voice it)
  • Each parent’s history of drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, or run-ins with the law
  • Any past disciplinary problems or accusations of physical or emotional abuse.

A judge is likely to worry that a parent with a recent criminal record may exhibit poor decision-making skills, keep poor quality company or potentially endanger the life of others. This may be particularly true if the prior conviction involves drugs or alcohol and there are no indications that the parent has overcome their substance abuse problem.

A conviction for a violent crime can also be problematic. The court may fear that a parent will subject their child or their co-parent to domestic violence or abuse or otherwise put their child in danger.

Naturally, the older the conviction, the less weighty it may be in the court’s mind. Similarly, anything you can show to indicate that you’ve put your past firmly behind you may mitigate the problem.

What should you do if you’re petitioning for custody?

A judge will generally weigh a parent’s past indiscretions, allegations and convictions carefully. The court may take evidence of rehabilitation and warrant them giving a parent a new opportunity to prove their ability to parent their child. 

Please continue reviewing the child custody resources on our website to learn more about the law and your options. 

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