How Will My Criminal Record Affect My Child Custody Order?

A parent holds their small child's hands, helping them walk on a beach

After a criminal conviction, you may experience many ramifications from these legal proceedings. Even more, you will find these criminal actions can pour over and affect your custody arrangement with your child. If you have a criminal history and are fearful such convictions may cause a disruption in your current parenting plan or effect an equitable formation of a new parenting plan, contact an Orlando Child Custody Attorney, who can fight to ensure your rights are protected.

In general, there is a presumption and overarching public policy that each child have continued contact with each parent after the separation of a family. Therefore, the court generally awards a shared parenting plan where the parents will equally participate in the child’s life, decisions, and activities. However, this presumption may be overcome with evidence that such contact with a parent is detrimental to the child and not in their best interest. Detriment to a child can be directly linked to a parent’s criminal history. Statute provides: “Evidence that a parent has been convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher involving domestic violence… creates a rebuttable presumption of detriment to the child.” If this presumption is not rebutted, sole parental responsibility will be granted to the nonoffending parent. However, a timesharing plan may still be formulated to allow for supervised contact or visitation with the child. However, this timesharing plan must take precautions to protect the child from any further harm. Although, statute only specifically designates domestic violence as a detriment to the child, the court must also weigh the child’s best interest.

When determining a parenting plan, the court is given broad discretion. However, statute requires the court to “determine all matters relating to parenting and timesharing of each minor child of the parties in accordance with the best interest of the child.” Some the factors the court looks to in determining the child’s best interest include: “the moral fitness of the parents, evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.” When assessing these factors, the court may consider a parent’s criminal history. If a parent has a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, or crimes of moral turpitude, the court may be hesitant in awarding unsupervised timesharing in order to protect the child from such harmful actions previously conducted by the parent.

However, criminal records will not automatically restrict you from parenting your child. If you have a criminal past, it is important to display to the court your rehabilitation process. Be able to draw a timeline between you and the offense. The court would like to see that a conviction occurred years prior rather than in recent months. Further, it is important that you are not a repeat offender of any criminal action. Finally, and most telling is the rehabilitation process. Be able to present the court with positive actions you have taken to better yourself and overcome your turbulent history.

Although your criminal history can have significant effects on your parenting plan, it does not restrict your rights to your child completely. Being able to prove to the court that you are a capable and loving parent outside of your criminal past is crucial and your Orlando Child Custody Attorney will be sure these elements are presented to the court to protect your rights to your child.

Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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