Will criminal charges prevent child custody?

When you’re embroiled in a child custody battle, it can feel like you’re under a microscope of intense scrutiny as a judge analyzes your competence as a parent and your ability to provide for your child.

While some of the issues your ex-spouse might raise in a courtroom are more subjective, you might be wondering if a criminal charge or incarceration from the past or present is enough to revoke your custody.

The type of crime matters

Some crimes are weighted heavier than others. For example, a nonviolent white-collar offense might be overlooked, even if a former spouse tries to use it against you. Certain drug charges and repeat offenses, on the other hand, might make an impact on the decision even if a lot of time has passed.

The judge will weigh the likelihood that your crime would disrupt or harm the child’s life against other factors, like whether the crime represents a pattern in your life of a tendency toward criminal or illegal behavior. Atonement will also likely be taken into consideration, meaning a criminal charge from 20 years ago won’t necessarily weigh the same as one from five or 10 years ago.

Your new partner may affect your custody

If you get involved with a new partner, their criminal record could be used against you. This is especially the case if you remarry or cohabitate, but it can even be evoked if there’s suspicion your child might be exposed to them.

Similar scrutiny applies to a new spouse or partner, so it’s important to bring this up with your attorney so it’s clear from the beginning what you’ll have to defend in your custody case.

It can be daunting when a former spouse leverages your past against you over child custody. While it may seem like a difficult obstacle, it’s not a sentencing or outright revocation of your ability to be fully present in your child’s life.