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Does a Criminal Record Affect Child Custody?

When it comes to how courts make child custody decisions, you may have heard the phrase "the child's best interests." It's a broad standard that can include factors from the location of school and family members to the age, sex, and wishes of the child. A court will often also consider any parental history of drug or alcohol abuse or violence in the home. Therefore, criminal convictions may come into play when determining a child's best interests.

So what impact will a criminal record have on child custody decisions? It will often depend on the crimes themselves.

Crimes and Custody

Among the factors determining the best interests of a child are:

  • The need for continuation of stable home environment;
  • Evidence of a pattern of domestic violence in the home;
  • Evidence of parental drug, alcohol abuse; and
  • Evidence of excessive discipline, emotional abuse physical abuse.

And certain criminal convictions can be considered when deciding who gets custody. A criminal record with numerous drug possession convictions could be an indicator of drug addiction. Likewise, multiple DUI charges could point to alcohol abuse as well as a child's safety when riding with a parent.

Domestic violence charges, even if the child was not the alleged victim, are often viewed in a negative light, and obviously any child abuse convictions, even involving other children, will adversely affect any effort to gain child custody or even be used to terminate parental rights. Even certain parole or probation conditions that can impact a stable and continuous home environment

Time and Atonement

All that said, not every criminal conviction will bar you from custody of your child. Very old criminal cases could indicate that a person has made efforts to reform and stay clean. And crimes that don't involve drugs or violence (like speeding tickets or trespassing violations) may not impact a child custody case.

If you want more specific information on whether your criminal record could affect your child custody case, contact an experienced custody attorney today.

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