As you move toward divorce, you plan to seek shared custody of your children. However, your spouse has other ideas. They point out that you have a criminal record and plan to use that against you.
Can having a record impact a judge’s decision about custody? It depends.
Judges who are tasked with deciding custody matters are expected to base those decisions on what’s in the children’s best interests. They want them to be in a safe, healthy, stable environment when they’re with either parent.
Some types of crimes are considered especially problematic. Of course, if the crime involved violence in the home — whether against a child or another family member — that could indeed impact a parent’s ability to have access to their children. A history of DUIs and drug-related convictions could lead a judge to believe that children wouldn’t be safe if left with a parent.
However, judges will look at how old a person’s criminal charges are and whether they appear to have turned their life around. Therefore, if you had a few DUIs and maybe were arrested for a drunken brawl many years ago, but you no longer drink and have had no run-ins with the law since you stopped, a judge is more likely not to let that impact your custody case.
If you have some arrests in your past that are going to be used against you by your co-parent, it’s essential that you are prepared to demonstrate that you have changed your ways. Your attorney can help you work to present documentation, testimony from others and whatever evidence you can gather than will strengthen your case.