Will a Criminal Past Affect My Child Custody Case?

Posted in Child Custody,Family Code on March 18, 2024

When a judge makes a decision about child custody, they utilize all information they have about both parents, the child’s needs, and the child’s desires, depending on their age. In some situations, this could include looking at the past of both parents. Ultimately, the court makes a decision about where to place the child based on what is in the best interest of the child. Here is how your criminal past could impact you. Talk to a Solana Beach child custody and visitation lawyer from Ratzer|Dobis today.

Can a Convicted Felon Have Custody of a Child?

There are various situations when this may happen. The judge must determine what is in the best interest of the child, and that typically means, unless there is some risk of doing so, that the child should have access to both parents. This applies even when a parent may be a convicted felon.

However, the judge is also going to focus specifically on what occurred to lead to that felony conviction. If a person was convicted of a crime a decade ago that was related to theft or perhaps a DUI, but there have been no other incidents, the court is not likely to apply that conviction to the custody decision. Conversely, if there is a conviction for physical abuse, that may be taken into consideration and very significantly impact custody decisions.

Misdemeanor Criminal Charges Can Matter

Those with a misdemeanor charge on their criminal history may not realize that this, too, can be a factor in the decisions a judge makes. If there is some charge that indicates a lack of trust in a person’s moral character or that the party is not responsible enough to care for the child, that may be a reason why the court decides not to award custody.

The lower the degree of the crime, and the further back it is from the current situation, the less impact it will have on a judge’s decision about custody.

The Level of Custody Matters, Too

The court will also take into consideration other factors as they relate to the case. For example, if a person has a criminal past and is in jail, they will not be given any type of custody. However, the court will consider joint legal custody, physical custody, and sole custody carefully on an individual basis to determine if there is evidence that the child could be at risk.

There are many cases in which a judge will rule based on criminal past as one of numerous factors in making the decision to award custody to a parent or not to do so. There is no simple answer to this. If you have a criminal history of any degree, it is a good idea to speak to your attorney about this. It may also be wise to document why it should not matter as you head into a court of law to convince a judge about custody matters.

A criminal past is a factor. It is not the only factor that matters in most child custody cases.