There are several factors that the court will consider to determine if a prior conviction will factor in the court’s decision.
A prior criminal conviction can directly impact a child custody battle. Beyond the loss of custody, a criminal conviction can lead to reduced visitation or loss of child visitation rights in more extreme cases. That said, having a previous conviction doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be on the losing side of a custody case. There are several factors that the court will consider to determine if a prior conviction will factor in the court’s decision.
Here are some of the factors the court will take into consideration:
1. The Type of Conviction
The type of conviction is probably the most crucial factor the courts consider. For example, the judge will likely be more lenient for alcohol and drug-related offenses if you have shown the desire to change previous habits by joining a rehabilitation facility or an addict self-help group.
Judges generally look upon violent crimes differently depending on the circumstances of the offense. For example, a bar brawl or a case of self-defense might hold less weight than a robbery case with assault or a domestic violence case. If a history of multiple violent crimes exists, the judge will likely be very harsh in their judgment.
Also, since custody battles are based on the child’s best interests, crimes against children are a primary no-go zone. It is infrequent for a judge to make any ruling in favor of a person with a prior criminal conviction involving the abuse of children.
2. The Number of Convictions
This is another critical factor that the court will consider. A court will likely look at a single offense more favorably than many priors. Multiple offenses may give a judge the impression you have an affinity for crime and might be liable to commit a crime in the future.
3. How Long Ago Did the Crimes Occur?
Convictions from the distant past, let’s say 10 or 15 years, generally don’t hold much water compared to more recent offenses: This is especially true if you don’t have any other convictions after that time. The time will be looked at as time used in getting better and growing as a person.
What if You Are Charged With a Crime While in the Middle of a Custody Case?
Generally, being charged with a crime while in the middle of a child custody battle can reduce your chances of receiving favorable visitation and parental rights. That said, it’s worth noting that being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted of a crime.
If you’ve been convicted of a crime while facing a custody case, make sure you have a family law attorney by your side. The attorney will help you convince the court not to consider the criminal conviction/charge as evidence regarding your fitness as a parent.
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