A criminal record will keep you from doing a lot of things. It can keep you from getting a loan, getting a job, carrying a firearm, or finding housing. The one thing it might not do is keep you from parenting your child.
Just because a non-custodial parent has a criminal record, it doesn’t mean that he or she can’t seek and obtain custody of his or her child. It also doesn’t mean that the parent in question wouldn’t make a good parent. There are a lot of factors that go into child custody claims.
The best interests of the child are the most important part of a custody claim
Family court judges are required to issue child custody rulings based on the best interests of the child and not in the interests or convenience of the parents. Because of this, having a criminal record could impact whether the non-custodial parent can obtain sole, shared, physical or legal custody in any capacity.
It is a widely accepted theory that the best interests of the child include having both parents involved in their life. Because of this, judges will do their best to ensure it happens, even if one of the parents has a criminal record.
What the judge will do to determine if a parent can have custody
The judge will review the criminal record of the parent before issuing a ruling about custody. For example, if the non-custodial parent has a history of assaults on their record, this could be a warning sign that the child will not be safe in that parent’s presence. If the parent has a history of DUI convictions, the child might not be safe in a vehicle with the parent. If the parent is a convicted felon who cannot obtain employment or housing, then he or she may be denied custody because it’s not in the best interests of the child.
There are specific felony crimes that will typically prevent or limit the chances for a parent to obtain custody of their child, including the following:
On the other end of the spectrum, if the parent has a theft conviction on their record from years ago, with no additional criminal charges, it is very likely that the parent could obtain custody of their child. The same could be true of certain property crimes or white-collar convictions, or maybe even low-level drug possession offenses.
The judge will also look at when the crimes occurred. If the non-custodial parent has been in and out of jail recently, now might not be a good time to explore awarding him or her custody of the child.
I am the one with a criminal record; can you help me get custody?
We can certainly try. Because our Maryville family law attorneys also handle criminal defense, we have a much broader perspective of what parents face when they seek custody of their children. We believe that mistakes you made and atoned for long ago should not keep you from parenting your child now. There are certain legal options available to you to help clean up your prior record, and make you more appealing in front of a family court judge. We have also worked with people who were falsely accused and/or convicted, to help them seek expungement and pardons.
Are you looking to obtain custody of your child, but have a criminal record? Are you a parent trying to protect your child from a dangerous ex? Either way, the experienced Maryville child custody attorneys from Shepherd & Long, P.C., can guide you through this type of child custody case. Call our office at 865-982-8060 or complete a contact form to schedule an appointment in East Tennessee.