If you have recently been charged with a crime, or you have a criminal record, and you are going through a divorce or a separation, you may be worried about how your criminal record could affect your custody rights. While going through a divorce can be difficult on its own, the thought of losing custody of your children can make this time even more stressful.
While child custody is a complex issue, certain factors will influence whether or not you are granted timesharing rights if you have a criminal record. Here is a quick overview of how having a criminal record could affect your child custody case in Boca Raton, Florida.
The Judge Has Sole Discretion
When it comes to issues of custody, sole discretion will belong to the presiding judge, and the judge will likely take a variety of factors into consideration when making this decision if one parent has a criminal record.
It is ultimately the judge’s job to make a decision that is in the child’s best interest, and they will consider several factors when making this decision such as the type of crime the parent committed, how recently the last offense occurred, how many convictions the parent had, and the type and length of sentence for the conviction.
For instance, they will be more likely to scrutinize a recent DUI conviction than they would a public intoxication charge from college ten years ago.
The Type of Offense Matters
Ultimately, the type of offense, and when the offense occurred, then play the biggest role in determining whether a parent with a criminal record will receive custody. In fact, when determining child custody, certain offenses weigh heavier than others including domestic violence, weapons charges, and assault charges.
Additionally, recent alcohol or drug convictions, such as a DUI, can have a negative impact on your case, and the judge may request drug testing during the legal proceedings. Particularly critical to a custody case is also whether or not the child was impacted by the offense for which you were convicted.
For instance, if you received a DUI while your child was in the car, this can gravely affect your case. However, a judge will take time to consider the facts of your case, and a single offense from far in your past may not necessarily jeopardize your custody case.
Time-Sharing May be Affected
However, even if you are granted some level of custody or time-sharing, judges have the ability to incorporate limitations onto the type of time-sharing you receive, and this is likely to happen in cases where a parent has a criminal record.
For instance, a judge may decide that it is in your child’s best interests to require time-sharing to be supervised if there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse or addiction. Of course, certain crimes such as sexual abuse, offenses against a minor, or domestic violence may cause a judge to consider terminating your parental rights altogether.
Charges VS Convictions
If you are facing a custody battle and have a criminal record, it is important to remember that there is a difference between being charged with something and actually being convicted of a crime.
A charge in and of itself is not proof that a person actually committed a crime, and if a parent is facing a charge while undergoing a child custody case, their lawyer may be able to argue that the charge should not be factored into the custody case as no conviction has occurred.
Ultimately, whether or not a judge considers a charge will depend on the nature of the charge, its severity, and its relevance to the custody case.
It is Important to Partner With an Attorney
If you are facing a custody battle and you have a criminal record, it is then critical that you work with an attorney who can support you during this difficult time.
With so many factors potentially affecting whether or not you will be granted custody, having a skilled attorney by your side will give you the best chances of success as you enter legal proceedings.
Contact us to learn more about your custody rights if you have a criminal record and are facing a custody battle.