Divorce is quite prevalent these days. With divorce comes numerous issues. If a couple going through divorce have a child or children together, the issue of custody can be a contentious one. If you’re going through a divorce where you and your partner cannot seem to agree on key issues, you can get legal assistance from divorce attorneys in Scottsdale. While you may hope for an amicable agreement regarding things like child custody, this may not always be the case. Legal representation may be your only option.
Definition of “Custody”
Legally speaking, custody is divided into two categories.
These include “physical custody” and ‘legal custody.” When most people think of custody in divorce cases, what they’re referring to is “physical custody.” “Physical custody” involves the arrangement of where the child lives with one parent.
“Legal custody” is a parent’s right to participate in a child’s welfare and upbringing. Participating in a child’s upbringing includes things like what values to instill in a child, what kind of education to get, what religion the child should follow, etc.
Child custody involves any arrangement on the spectrum between “physical custody” and “legal custody.” Both physical and legal custody can be broken down into “joint custody” and “sole custody.”
“Sole legal custody” means that only one parent is responsible for making all the upbringing and life-altering decisions on behalf of a child. This type of custody usually involves physical custody too.
“Joint legal custody” is when both parents are involved in the child’s life. The child does not live with both parents. However, the non-custodial parent is just as involved in all aspects of decision-making regarding the child’s welfare. The non-custodial parent has visitation rights, usually arranged by the court or through a mutual agreement with the custodial parent.
Can a Conviction Affect Child Custody?
Child custody cases are complex and emotionally draining by themselves. Adding an element of a criminal conviction or a misdemeanor can complicate things further.
Having a criminal record or a conviction does not automatically jeopardize a parent’s chances of gaining custody of a child. Several factors will come into play.
It’s crucial to remember that a child’s best interests are of paramount concern in all cases of child custody. When a judge presides over a child custody case, this is the lens through which they’ll filter all their decisions. A child having both parents in their life is something considered universally beneficial. In all child custody rulings, the idea is to preserve the participation of both parents in a child’s life as much as can be acceptable.
A criminal history is one thing that can seriously undermine a parent’s petition for child custody.
The term “convict” refers to an individual who has been found guilty of a particular crime by a judicial body like a court. However, this umbrella term does not specify the nature of the crime for which an individual was convicted.
A judge tends to consider all facts of a case when handling child custody matters. If a parent petitioning for child custody has a criminal conviction, the presiding judge will want to know all about the parent’s conviction and any pertinent matters.
The nature of the crime that led to a conviction is a key factor that can sway a judge’s opinion. For example, a parent that was convicted of white-collar crimes like fraud and embezzlement can expect to have child custody. This is because the nature of such a crime has no bearing on parenting capabilities and poses no danger to a child. However, someone convicted of violent crimes can expect a judge to rule against them in a child custody case. Such violent crimes include;
- iv) Rape
- v) Robbery
- vi) Assault with a deadly weapon
Someone that willfully commits such crimes is usually given to violent tendencies. This will probably derail their child custody petition as judges will be reluctant to have such individuals around kids. Being convicted of other non-violent crimes can also hamper a parent’s efforts to gain custody. For example, being convicted of child molestation, pedophilia, or engaging in the sale and distribution of child pornography will not bode well for a parent’s petition for child custody.
Of course, the nature of a crime can differ depending on a particular jurisdiction. For instance, voyeurism is usually a misdemeanor in many jurisdictions. However, it can be a felony in others. This means a parent convicted of voyeurism can have their petition for child custody denied in such jurisdictions. A judge will examine all such factors when deciding who should get custody.
Ultimately, a criminal conviction does not automatically rule out one’s chances of getting child custody. However, the nature of the crime and other aggravating factors will heavily influence the presiding judge’s decision.