The terms of a divorce are usually complex enough, but an arrest or criminal conviction can complicate them even more.
There is no doubt that a criminal record will impact your life in many ways. You may find difficulty obtaining employment or housing, and your reputation may have suffered as a result, as well. One impact that many people do not consider is that a criminal conviction or arrest can have a negative effect on child custody rights. This is why it is so important that anyone in a child custody dispute calls a lawyer, especially if they have been arrested or have a criminal conviction.
Florida Family Courts and Criminal Convictions
All child custody cases in Florida are heard in family court in front of a judge. When parents have a criminal conviction or arrest on their record and find themselves in a child custody hearing, the judge will take the criminal record into consideration. This does not mean, however, that parents with criminal records are always denied child custody. The judge will consider many factors when making a decision, including:
- The nature of the crime
- The age of the convicted person at the time of conviction
- The length of sentence and type of sentence served
- The number of convictions and arrests on the criminal record
- The age of the victim, the nature of the relationship to the offender, and the impact on the victim
All of these are important factors that a judge will take into consideration. Although all factors will be heavily weighed, one of the most important factors is the nature of the crime. When a parent has a domestic violence conviction on his or her record, this could prevent a judge from awarding that person custody, particularly if the child or mother of the child was the victim. Other serious convictions, such as DUIs, can also affect child custody.
Arrests and Child Custody
No one can say with certainty what will happen in a child custody situation when one parent has a criminal conviction on his or her record. When one parent is arrested, but not yet convicted, it becomes even more unclear.
Again, if the arrest was due to domestic violence or a DUI, this could be enough to stop a judge from awarding any custody to that parent until the criminal case is over. For less serious charges, such as shoplifting, a judge may still award custody on a short-term basis and may make a final decision once the criminal case is over. These cases, like when a parent has a criminal conviction, are largely left to the judge’s discretion.
Need Help with Your Custody Case? Call Our Florida Family Lawyer
Child custody issues are always complex, but an arrest or conviction can make them even more complicated. At The Law Offices of Robert Stepniak, our Daytona Beach family lawyer can provide the advice you need on your criminal charges and on your custody matters. For help on the matters that could affect you for years to come, call our attorney today at 386-253-4750 to schedule a consultation.