Can a Criminal Charge Impact Child Custody?

by Pacific Legal GroupJune 9, 2021September 9th, 2021Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Lawyer

Will a Criminal Charge Affect My Child Custody Agreement?

Unfortunately, child custody hearings can become quite contentious when parents are unable to settle outside of court. In many cases, each parent will make claims and allegations against the other parent, with the goal of proving that the other party is unfit to parent. 

Courts aim to place the best interest of children above most other concerns. If any criminal charge or conviction against a parent is related to what is in the child’s best interests, this can have a damaging effect on custody or visitation rights. 

What Do Courts Consider?

In general, the more serious the offense, the greater the impact that criminal charges can have on how courts will consider your child custody rights. The courts will first consider whether the charges are related to your custody case. In some cases, an unrelated or minor misdemeanor like shoplifting does not carry much weight in court at all. However, if minor charges are part of a pattern of criminal behavior, this may have more of an impact.

Courts will consider whether the criminal charges affect your parenting ability. Any custody hearing will weigh who is best equipped to adequately care for the child, and although courts generally consider it to be beneficial for the child to maintain relationships with both parents, repeat offenses or multiple arrests may indicate a pattern of negative behavior that is not in the child’s best interest. If the court notes a history of serious or violent arrests, that parent may receive only limited visitation or supervised custody.

What Crimes Impact Custody Most?

Not all criminal charges are the same. Some will often lead to a parent losing custodial rights, especially if the crime is perceived to have any potentially dangerous or violent impact on the child. Those felonies include:

  • Crimes that are sexual in nature
  • Crimes that endanger children
  • Aggravated assault
  • Stalking
  • Kidnapping
  • Homicide

What About Domestic Violence?

In many states, courts are permitted to assume that it is not in a child’s best interest for a parent who has been charged or convicted of domestic violence to have custodial or visitation rights, especially if the child experienced this violence directly. Medical files, police reports, and protective services records may be considered to award emergency custody if a parent faces domestic violence charges. Contact a domestic violence lawyer, like one at the Law Office of Daniel Wright, to learn more about this particular situation, what your options are if you are facing a domestic violence charge, and how it may impact you.

Are Charges Seen Differently From Convictions?

If you are charged with a crime, this does not constitute proof that you actually committed the crime. You are entitled to defend yourself in court. If you face charges at the time of your custody hearing, your lawyer may argue that these charges should not carry weight since there has not been a conviction. However, if the charges are serious or related to any crimes that endanger children, the court may consider them.

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