Most of us have great intentions of starting a family and living a happily ever after story, but the reality is sometimes divorce is something we must face. If there are children involved and a custody battle, then the process of separating is anything but easy or fun. And for people who may have made mistakes in their past involving the criminal justice system, the entire process only gets that much more frustrating.
Because the state of Texas puts your child’s best interest above all else when determining for parental custody, your criminal background could play a major role in the judge’s final decision. That said, having had a criminal conviction will not automatically cause you to lose the custody battle.
Was There a Victim in Your Past Criminal Offense?
First and foremost, the judge will want to know who was the victim in your previous court case or if there was one at all. There are a few types of court cases that could weigh heavily against you such as domestic violence. Committing a crime against any of your loved ones would, of course, cause the judge to question the child’s safety under your guardianship. Sexual or violent crimes could cause you to lose custody altogether. However, in the case that your previous criminal convictions is victimless, we could move onto the following other considering factors.
What Type of Offense Was Your Conviction?
Criminal convictions could be used to infer who you are as a person. While violent/sexual crimes are extremely damaging to your case, crimes involving drugs and alcohol can still hurt your argument. A violent crime conveys that you could be an immediate threat to your children, and a DWI or drug-related crime says you might be a reckless, irresponsible parent — all things for the judge to consider if you are deserving of full custody.
However, unlike a conviction for violent type crimes, DWI/drug convictions can be mitigated depending on your recent history. It is quite common for a judge to order a drug test on parents who have been convicted of drug-related crimes. If you pass and your record has stayed clean for a long enough time, there’s a chance that the conviction won’t damage your chances in this custody battle.
How Long Ago Did the Conviction Occur?
Even though criminal convictions are taken very seriously in custody hearings, judges also understand that bad things can happen to good people. If you have an old, isolated conviction for a case like DWI or marijuana possession that happened in college, your lawyer could work to keep the that conviction out of the conversation by focusing on the present.
Does Your Record Have Multiple Offenses?
However you slice it, multiple convictions—violent or not— means you have a lack of responsibility and respect for the law. This is especially important if any of your convictions resulted in jail time because this aspect of your past could then be used to prove your inability to provide a normal, stable environment for your children moving forward. Add in a strong counter argument from your ex-spouse, and you may be at risk of receiving overnight or supervised custody.
Your Best Option? Come Prepared.
If you are entering into a custody battle with a criminal record, you need a lawyer who not only understands family law, but one who can fight to paint an accurate picture of you as a parent. As a family lawyer with a background in criminal defense, Taly Thiessen is uniquely prepared to help you handle your record in court, and will fight to help you receive the best verdict possible in your custody hearing. Schedule your consultation today for divorce preparation.