Knowledgeable Family Law Representation

Does a criminal record impact child custody?

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2023 | Child Custody |

Every year, thousands of families in California navigate the process of divorce and determining child custody arrangements. These decisions can have a significant impact on the lives of both parents and children.

In determining child custody, a judge looks at multiple factors, and one of them can be any criminal record on the part of a parent. Having a criminal record can certainly affect child custody decisions, but it depends on the individual details of each case.

What a judge considers when it comes to a criminal record

The primary motivation for a judge in deciding how custody and visitation are apportioned is the safety, stability and happiness of the children in question. A judge will consider any past criminal behavior when making a decision.

But not all crimes have equal relevance. Violent crimes are a more significant red flag than non-violent crimes. Crimes against a child, and specifically the children in question, are usually treated with utmost seriousness.

Drug offenses and DUIs are alarming to judges because they raise the possibility of neglect.

Repeat and recent offenses are also more likely to have negative consequences than one-time offenses or convictions from the distant past.

Conviction versus charges

One important distinction in all of this is the difference between being charged with a crime and being convicted of a crime. Not all charges lead to convictions, and a conviction brings far more weight than a charge. Anyone charged with a crime is afforded due process under the law.

A party in the divorce can ask for an emergency custody order if there are open charges against the other party. If granted, that order will remain in effect until the charges are resolved one way or the other.

A criminal conviction can have a serious impact on child custody and visitation during a divorce. However, not all convictions have equal weight, and it’s important to note the distinction between charges and convictions.