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How to address your criminal history in a custody dispute

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2023 | Family Law

We’ve all made mistakes in our lives. And while we have to deal with the ramifications of those mistakes, there should come a time when we’re forgiven and our actions have less of an impact on our current lives and our future. While that mindset should apply to your child custody dispute, the sad reality is that that isn’t always the case.

In fact, if you have something in your past that paints you in a bad light, like a criminal history, then your child’s other parent might latch onto that to try to take control of your child custody dispute. This can leave you with restricted access to and limited time with your child. As a result, your relationship with your child might flounder, which is harmful not only to you, but also to your child.

So, how should you approach your custody case if you have a criminal history?

Unless you get your record expunged, you probably aren’t going to be able to fully avoid your criminal history from being brought up in these matters. However, there are a few strategies that you can utilize here to minimize the impact of your criminal history. Let’s look at some of them here:

  • Show the length of time that’s passed: Even though you made a mistake in your past, it probably doesn’t have an impact on your current ability to care and otherwise provide for your child. This is especially true if your criminal record shows mistakes that were made long ago. Here, you’ll just want to highlight the amount of time that’s passed and how nothing in your current life shows that your criminal record carries any significant relevance.
  • Prove the lack of severity of the crime: The court is likely going to give more weight to a criminal history that’s severe in nature. So, if you have minor offenses on your record, then you should minimize them by demonstrating how they have no bearing on your overall character and fitness as a parent.
  • Discuss who the crime was committed against: If your record has a more significant criminal offense on it, then you might want to think about addressing who the crime was perpetrated against. If it was someone other than your child and your child’s other parent, then you might be able to admit to your past mistake but demonstrate that you’d never act in a way that would be harmful to your child.
  • Show how you’ve changed: We learn from our mistakes. That’s probably true for you despite the fact that you have a criminal record. For example, even though the other parent might try to show that a DUI or drug possession conviction is indicative of a substance abuse problem that endangers your child, you can present evidence to show how you’ve sought treatment and no longer engage in substance abuse. You might be able to show how you’ve learned and changed following other types of criminal convictions, too.

Are you ready to tackle your custody case

If you have a criminal record, then you’re going to have an uphill battle as you navigate your child custody case. But don’t let that daunt you. Instead, use it as motivation to prepare as fully as possible for the arguments ahead, which should be focused as much as possible on the child’s best interests.

If you think that you could benefit from some assistance in that regard, then now is the best time to discuss your circumstances with an attorney you trust to advocate on your behalf. To learn more about what the legal teams in your area have to offer, please consider reaching out to them to discuss their services and what they can provide for their clients.