Your prior criminal record can be used during a court proceeding if it is relevant to the case. Ultimately, it’s the unique factors of your divorce that will determine whether or not your past criminal record will be admissible.
Unless they are directly associated with the current proceedings, these types of criminal charges are typically considered irrelevant during your divorce:
- criminal charges more than ten years old
- juvenile criminal charges
Criminal activity that does not directly cause harm to your children—such as being convicted of tax fraud—usually do not affect your rights as a parent. If your criminal charges are related to your current case—for example, a charge that involves your former partner or child—they may be presented during your divorce regardless of when the charges were filed.
Even if you have been convicted of past criminal activity, your chances of getting or maintaining child custody are more likely if you’ve kept a clean record and made positive life changes. A family court’s main responsibility is to determine what’s in the best interest for the children, so the judge may consider the following:
- The victim(s) or those affected by the offense
- Nature of the offense
- When the offense occurred
- Number of past offenses and/or convictions
These guidelines are also true if your former partner is dating someone with a criminal background and potentially exposing your children to a harmful situation. Depending on the criminal charges or convictions, you may be able to petition the court and revise your child custody plan. Again, the court’s decision comes down the details of the case and the criminal activity in question and how they may affect the welfare of your children. Criminal charges that involve violence, abuse, or drugs are usually taken very seriously by the court.
If you’re concerned about the safety and well-being of your children while in the care of their mother, contact an experienced child custody lawyer immediately. A lawyer can review a person’s criminal background and charges and help protect the best interests of your children.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Having a lawyer who is knowledgeable in both family and criminal law can help minimize the impact of your past criminal activity and review how your criminal record was entered into evidence to ensure the opposing side followed the appropriate procedures. If you are denied custody due to your criminal record, you may still be able to visit your children (depending on the nature of your crime).