Family courts have traditionally been charged to make a decision that will be in the best interest of the child or children.  This means that they have a lot of discretion and power in child custody cases.  When parents become ex-spouses it can sometimes be difficult to establish where the child is going to live, who has custody, and what the terms of visitation will be.  Courts will look at several aspects when making these determinations.  This includes things like the income of each parent, their ability to care for the child or children, and the overall safety and wellbeing of each child.  If you are a parent with a criminal record, these items may affect your child custody case.

What can a criminal charge do?

It should come as no surprise that the court is not going to treat all criminal charges the same.  Of the many aspects they will consider, the most common factors include:

  1. The type of offense that was committed.
  2. The potential victims of the crime and the impact the crime may have had on them.
  3. How long ago the crime or crimes were committed.
  4. The nature of the sentence and whether jail or prison time was served.
  5. If there have been multiple convictions or if this is a reoccurring situation.

It is also important to note that if any crimes have involved the children the court can and usually will impose some sort of limitation on the parental rights of the parent.  The general idea is that if the child has been the victim of crime once, the offending parent may do this again.  The nature of the crime is also going to be considered as well.  If the crime is of a serious enough nature total parental rights may also be removed.  This is especially true if the children have been either physically or sexually abused by one parent or another.

What can be done about the situation?

As we stated at the beginning of this article, the court is going to impose what they believe is in the best interest of the children.  The best thing that can be done is to work with a custody attorney in your area.  This is true whether you are concerned about an ex-spouse with a criminal history, or on the other hand, you have a criminal history but don’t want that to affect your ability to see your children.  Family courts do not always have the perfect formula to create the perfect outcome.  If you live in Utah please consider calling Burton Family Attorneys at (801) 393-1106 to speak with a legal professional and request a consultation.

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