Divorcing a Spouse with a Criminal History
In general, it does not tend to matter to a family law court whether you or your spouse has a criminal history. Most divorce cases are filed in a no-fault capacity, which means that the conduct of spouses during their marriage and/or leading up to its termination does not usually affect the court’s judgments associated with the divorce process. However, there are times when an individual’s criminal history may impact the divorce process directly and indirectly. As a result, if you are divorcing an individual with a criminal record, it is generally a good idea to discuss this aspect of your case with your attorney.
Criminal History – Direct Impacts
If your spouse’s criminal behavior somehow impacted your decision to marry him or her, you may be able to seek an annulment as opposed to a divorce. For example, if he or she behaved fraudulently and you were unaware of certain information before you married, this situation may allow you to obtain an annulment. It is also possible if your spouse’s criminal behavior led to the downfall of your marriage and your state allows you to file for fault-based divorce that his or her criminal history may impact your divorce process directly.
The most likely ways that your spouse’s criminal history may impact your divorce would occur during the child custody determination process. If you have minor children and your spouse’s criminal history may impact their best interests moving forward, this reality may significantly influence a judge’s decision regarding your children’s custody arrangements. For example, if your spouse has a history of violent crime, sex or abuse-related infractions, repeat criminal behavior, drug offenses or other records of behavior that could lead a judge to believe that he or she is likely to either reoffend or else harm your kids in some way, you could potentially make the argument that your spouse’s care of your children is not in their best interests. Any concerns you may have about your spouse’s potential custody of or visitation with your children should be discussed with your attorney.
Criminal History – Indirect Impacts
Your spouse’s criminal history may give you legitimate reasons to be concerned about how he or she may behave during your divorce process. If your spouse has been convicted of white-collar offenses, you may be concerned that he or she may hide assets from the court. If your spouse has been convicted of domestic abuse, you may be concerned about your safety moving forward.
Any concerns you may have as a result of your spouse’s criminal history should be discussed with your lawyer. He or she will appreciate both the opportunity to answer your questions and to alter his or her legal strategy tied to your case when appropriate.
Answers to Any Additional Legal Questions
If you have any additional questions or concerns about the divorce and/or child custody process, please consider reaching out to an experienced family law attorney. A family attorney in Tampa, FL will be best positioned to advise you of your legal options and answer questions unique to your circumstances.
Thanks to The McKinney Law Group for their insight into family law and divorce involving a criminal history.