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Can a criminal record stop you from getting custody in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2021 | Child Custody

Every single human being makes mistakes from time to time. Some of these mistakes are minor, leading to only a little embarrassment. Other errors, however, are more severe and lead to a criminal conviction.

Parents with criminal records may fear losing access to their children when divorcing. The concern over this issue is quite valid as some offenses are especially problematic. However, family courts in Richmond, Virginia, probably pay less attention to your record than you believe.

What kinds of convictions affect a parent’s custody rights?

Crimes involving violence may play a role in the court’s child custody decisions. For example, if a court convicted you of assault in recent months or years, a family law judge may determine that your child is safer with your co-parent. Other criminal activity family courts look at carefully include:

  • Drunk driving convictions: If you have a pattern of arrests and convictions for drunk driving, it may affect your custody rights. Courts may fear you will drive with the child while intoxicated, placing their life and health in danger.
  • Drug convictions: Repeat drug offense convictions typically signal addiction. To ensure a child remains safe and secure, the court may give your co-parent full custody, at least until you can prove you are clean, sober and stable.
  • Domestic abuse (violence): Judges always factor in a parent’s history of domestic abuse. If you have had a domestic abuse or violence conviction in your recent past, you might have trouble getting custody.

The good news is that old convictions play a much smaller role in the court’s child custody decisions. If you have not faced an arrest or conviction in recent years, it may increase your odds of winning custody. Learning more about Virginia child custody laws and guidelines can help you understand your options.