How Does Having a Criminal Record Affect Child Custody During Divorce?
If there are children involved in a divorce and there is a battle over which spouse gets custody of the child or children, then either spouse having a criminal past or record can lower or even completely eliminate their chances of getting joint/shared or sole custody of the child. Also, one spouse can use the past criminal record or history of the other spouse to eliminate their chances of child custody and even rights of visitation. This is permitted by state laws in California under certain legal provisions, hence it is vital that the spouse with the criminal past hire a professional divorce lawyer to help fight his/her case.
Best interests of the child
Section 3011 of the California Family Code deals with the best interest standard. This section basically deals with what the family or civil courts take into consideration while determining the terms of child custody. One of the main factors that the courts consider is what is in the best interest of the child. So if one spouse has been engaged in criminal activities or conduct in the past this would be a major detrimental factor to the courts while determining which spouse should get custody of the child. The family courts will consider the following factors while determining child custody:
- Whether either spouse has had a history of domestic abuse or violence towards any child that he is related to by blood, or an adopted child or any other child that is under their care and supervision.
- Whether the spouse has been violent with or has shown violent behavior towards the other spouse.
- Whether the spouse has a history of alcohol abuse or any kind of substance abuse.
- Whether the spouse has a history of criminal activities or malpractices or any kind of criminal conduct or behavior in the past.
The court will carefully consider all these factors while determining which spouse will be granted custody of the child. The above factors also help to determine what would be best for the child and the child’s best interests are always put first to ensure his safety, happiness and good future.
A past history of criminal conduct would include any felonies and misdemeanors that fall under any of the categories mentioned in section 3011 of the Family Code. Custody and visitation rights would be affected based on the type and severity of the offense, time elapsed since the commission of the offense and expungement of the offense. These offenses include sex and hate crimes, child abuse, etc. The more serious or violent the offense the higher the likelihood of the spouse losing all custody or visitation rights.
To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation.