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Can criminal convictions affect custody rights?

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Criminal convictions, especially those involving harm to children, can significantly impact an individual’s child custody rights. When determining custody arrangements – including contested requests for modification of existing orders – the courts prioritize the welfare and safety of the child in question above all else. Therefore, a parent with a criminal history related to child harm is often viewed as a potential risk to the child’s well-being, which can lead to severe restrictions on their custody and visitation rights.

As such, if you have been accused of criminal wrongdoing involving harm to a child, it’s time to start mounting the strongest possible defense. Otherwise, your access to your kids and your parenting rights could be seriously compromised as a result of your situation.

Not every case progresses in the same ways

The legal system operates on the principle that children should have a safe and nurturing environment. Therefore, when assessing custody, judges carefully consider the nature of any criminal convictions of the parents. Convictions involving violence, abuse, neglect or sexual offenses against children are taken particularly seriously. These offenses raise immediate red flags and may lead to a presumption that the convicted parent is not suitable to have custody or unsupervised visitation with their child(ren).

However, the impact of a criminal conviction on custody rights is not always straightforward. Courts will consider various factors, including the severity of the crime, the time elapsed since the conviction, the parent’s behavior since the offense and any rehabilitation efforts. Nevertheless, it is far better to be in a position to say that you have successfully defended against any allegations of misconduct than to have to defend against the existence of a criminal record of this nature.

Judges have broad discretion in these matters and can impose various restrictions to protect a child. These might include supervised visitation, where a parent can only see their child in the presence of another adult or professional supervisor or requiring a parent to undergo certain treatments or counseling as a condition of visitation, let alone shared custody.

With so much at stake, if you are a parent and are facing charges involving alleged harm to any child – even if the child in question is not yours – it’s time to seek personalized legal guidance to build the strongest defense possible under the circumstances.