Any time a parent gets convicted of a crime or has a past criminal record, there is concern about how that might affect custody and visitation rights in the event of a divorce, legitimation or custody modification case. There’s no easy answer to this question as every case is different and needs to be looked at on an individual basis.
Having said that, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that a parent with a criminal record can still maintain some visibility when it comes to their children. Can a parent get visitation with a criminal record? Let's examine this issue further.
Longtime readers of this blog know that the answer to many family law questions boils down to what’s in the best interest of the child? Whether or not you get some level of custody or visitation is largely going to center around the nature of the criminal conviction.
While bouncing a check or getting a DUI is not going to be looked at favorably by the court, it’s safe to say that certain convictions will be nearly impossible to win any significant rights:
In addition, the court is going to take any conviction for substance abuse-related behavior very seriously.
Any experienced family law attorney will tell you that the court prefers to have parental involvement, if at all possible, from both parents. Research consistently shows that children have better outcomes when they are consistently involved with both parents.
Given the nature of some convictions, it’s possible that alternate arrangements for visitation can be worked out. For example, if you have a conviction for a DUI (driving under the influence) on your record, you may be able to keep a visitation schedule as long as you’re not the one transporting the children. Depending on the facts and circumstances of a drug conviction, you can visit with your children at a neutral site with supervision. Passing a regular drug screen with negative results can also be required to continue visiting with your children.
Some organizations provide third party supervision for parents who are court-ordered to have such. You should know that you’ll probably be asked to pay for that service to utilize it.
You still have a measure of parental rights even if you have a criminal conviction as long as you’re the child’s properly documented parent. Whether you get to exercise those rights is based mainly on the nature of the charges and your commitment to staying out of trouble.
It’s vitally important that you talk to an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. This is going to be a journey of intense honesty and reflection. You must commit yourself to take legal advice if you hope to maintain contact with your child. Getting visits with a criminal record isn’t easy, but you do have a chance.
Family Matters Law Group is prepared to fight for your rights as a parent. You can set up an initial consultation by phone or by using our online contact form. If you’re taking steps to better yourself and be accountable, we want to help you create a suitable schedule that meets the needs of you and your family.