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Could your criminal case affect your parenting rights?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Facing criminal charges is an intimidating experience that can result in far-reaching consequences beyond the immediate threat of fines, community service requirements or imprisonment. For example, a criminal conviction could affect a parent’s child custody and/or parenting time rights. 

For many people, protecting one’s custody rights is a compelling reason to mount a robust defense against criminal charges. 

When the court gets involved

In family law matters involving minor children, the court’s primary concern is any particular child’s best interest. Judges consider various factors, including the moral character and past behavior of each parent, when making custody and/or parenting time decisions in litigation scenarios. A criminal conviction can severely damage a parent’s reputation and influence a judge’s perception of their ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child. Even if one’s pending charges or conviction record are not directly related to the child or the other parent, they can still suggest risks that the court may feel the need to protect the child from.

While not all criminal issues will impact child custody and/or parental rights, certain convictions absolutely can. For example, convictions involving domestic violence, substance abuse or other offenses that suggest an unsafe environment can lead to a restriction or complete loss of custody rights. Felony convictions might restrict a person’s right to visit or live with their children, even if the felony in question has nothing to do with abusive behavior.

A criminal conviction can also impact future modifications to custody arrangements. Courts may revisit initial custody decisions if new evidence suggests a change is in the child’s best interest. A new criminal conviction can serve as such evidence, potentially prompting a reevaluation that could result in less favorable terms or loss of custody.

Given these considerations, it’s evident that mounting a strong defense in the face of criminal charges is sometimes not only important when it comes to the immediate goal of avoiding conviction, but also for maintaining custody rights and preserving parent-child relationships.