You have a criminal record because of something that happened a decade ago. You spent a year in jail. You’ve now been out for so long that it almost feels like another life.
After getting out, you met your partner, got married and had a child. Everything seemed like it was getting back on track. Now your spouse is asking for a divorce, though, and you’re suddenly worried that you may not get custody of your child because of your criminal record. Should you be concerned?
You can get custody, but it could be harder
The short answer is that nothing is set in stone. The law does not say that someone without a record can’t have custody. It’s just left up to the judge to make the decision. What the judge needs to decide is what is best for your child. They’ll usually look at how the criminal activity could potentially impact that child’s life if you have custody.
For instance, if you were convicted of a violent crime, the judge may decide that it is just not safe for the child to be around you while the two of you are alone. You may get supervised visitation instead of regular visitation or shared custody.
If you got arrested on theft charges while you were unemployed, though, the judge may determine that has little bearing on your ability to be a parent now — especially since you have a job now. You may get shared custody or visitation fairly easily.
In general, the older your criminal record and the less serious the offense, the less of an obstacle your past will be to your custody goals.
You must know your legal options
When you’re worried about your parental rights and want to protect your relationship with your child, it’s important to take the time to really dig into all of your legal options. An early consultation with an attorney can help.