Child custody battles can quickly turn contentious when both parents are trying to attend to why they are the most suitable parent to have custody. During this time, it isn’t uncommon for each parent to dig up dirt on the other and present it to the judge, in hopes that they will be deemed unfit to parent. A criminal charge can surely have an impact on the outcome of a child custody case. It is strongly advised that any parent who is fighting for custody of their child with a criminal background seeks help from an experienced drug lawyer in San Francisco, CA. Here we explain why:
The Focus: Best Interest of the Child
If the criminal charge is related to what would be in the child’s best interests, then it can have a direct influence on the court’s final decision. The judge will consider the past criminal history of each parent, and whether this suggests anything about their character and ability to provide for their child. Along with character and criminal charges, the judge will evaluate other factors as well, such as:
- The relationship each parent has with their child
- The living situation for each parent and whether their home is a suitable environment to raise a child
- Whether there are siblings and if either of the parents will have trouble balancing work and family obligations
- Depending on the age of the child, their preference may be a factor
- If where each parent lives will enable the child to participate in having friendships, quality education, and opportunities for extracurriculars
The Type and Severity of Offense
After weighing the pros and cons and influencing factors, the judge may decide to award custody to one or both parents. If both parents receive custody, then they may have to split time between having children live with them and making decisions together about their well being. The family court judge may consider who was impacted from the criminal charge, the severity of damage caused to others, how long ago the offense happened, and the sentence that parent endured. The verdict may not weigh heavily into that parent’s favor if they were found guilty of more than one criminal charge, suggesting that there is a pattern of activity at play.
The Victim of the Crime
The parent charged with a criminal offense must be prepared to talk about any victims that resulted due to their behavior. For instance, if the crime involved drug/alcohol abuse, domestic violence, or other actions of an aggressive nature, then the court may believe that the parent won’t have a full ability to parent effectively. This is especially true of that parent is still struggling with such problems. The more recent the crime and degree in which a victim’s life was affected will likely weigh more into the decision than other factors. If it was an isolated incident, the parent is remorseful, and had taken action to get themselves healthy or compensate the victim, then the judge may not regard it too heavily.
Thanks to The Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and how a criminal charge can affect child custody.