Will A Criminal Record Affect My Custodial Rights?
If you have a criminal record, you may be concerned that your past will prevent you from having custody of your child. This is a legitimate concern because child custody proceedings can be complicated and even well-meaning parents can become vindictive. Not to mention, some judges may have a hard time believing that it is in your child’s best interest to be around you if you have a criminal record. A family law lawyer Rockville MD from The Law Office of Daniel J. Wright has compiled a couple of most commonly asked questions surrounding custodial rights below.
The Supreme Court held that courts can’t strip parents of their custodial rights without Due Process under the 14th Amendment. Therefore, child custody is your right unless extreme circumstances occur that conclude your involvement with your child is not in the child’s best interest. Family law judges will always consider the “best interest” standard above your personal desires.
When deciding what’s in a child’s best interest, a family law judge can consider:
- Whether you have a history of violence
- Whether you have a history of abuse or neglect towards any child
- Whether a court has convicted you of child abuse or child neglect
- Whether you must register as a sex offender
- Whether you have a history of substance use disorder
- Whether you have a history of mental health disorder(s)
- Whether you’re active in the child’s life
- Whether you regularly meet scheduled visits with the child
- Whether you regularly meet court-ordered child support payments, if applicable
- Whether you voluntarily signed away your rights as a parent and more.
As you can see, judges review several factors. Any criminal history, even if it was years ago, will be one of those factors. However, having a criminal record doesn’t mean that you’re a danger to your child.
What About Other Crimes, Such as Domestic Violence Charges (or Orders of Protection)?
Just because someone has no criminal record or only minor offenses, it doesn’t mean they’re safe from having their custodial rights stripped. If you are charged with any crime involving domestic violence or an order of protection is issued against you, don’t assume you can still maintain custodial rights to your children. In fact, in some states if there is an open case against you involving these types of crimes it could be grounds for termination of your parental rights altogether. Before jumping to conclusions about what will happen to your case as soon as charges are filed, consult with a lawyer that specializes in family law and understands how state laws apply to custody issues.
How to Keep Your Custody and Visitation Rights, Even if You Have Been Arrested or Charged with a Crime
Many people hire an attorney after they have been arrested or charged with a crime. Some of them want to know if their custody and visitation rights will be taken away. The short answer is that it depends on what you were arrested for, but many times having an arrest on your record will not affect your custody and visitation rights. Just because you have been arrested or charged with a crime does not mean that you will lose your right to visit with your children or share in decision making when it comes to important decisions about things like where they go to school and what activities they participate in. Even if there are reasons why you may wish to terminate parental rights, an arrest alone is unlikely to warrant doing so unless you were accused of something very serious such as child abuse or neglect. Talk to a family law lawyer today if you need help!