Is Custody of Your Children Possible if You Have a Criminal Record?
A criminal record can have drawbacks when it comes to matters like finding a job or being approved for a loan — but could your rights as a parent also be affected? Can you be awarded child custody in Utah if you are convicted of a crime?
To determine custody a judge has one ultimate goal in mind: What is in the best interest of the child? The courts will try and select the custody plan most likely in the childs best interest which means asking difficult questions about each parent. Are the parents willing and able to work together and cooperate toward the child’s best interests? Do the parents both have the financial means to provide necessities like food, clothing, and shelter? Does either parent have a criminal record?
If the answer is yes? Does that mean you automatically lose all chance of obtaining custody? NO.However, it does mean it may be more difficult to be successful. Just how difficult depends on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the crime you were convicted of.
Some of the specific factors the courts must consider when making custody decisions are outlined inU.C.A. Sec. 76-3-10. Under this statute, the courts may rule in favor of sole custody if certain factors which might endanger the child are present — including “domestic violence in the home or in the presence of the child.”
What counts as domestic violence? By Utah definitions, domestic violence means “any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm or threat of violence or physical harm… when committed by one cohabitant against another,” with “cohabitant” meaning a spouse, relative, or housemate. In accordance with U.C.A. Section 77-36-1(4), domestic violence can include:
- Assault (Simple or Aggravated)
- Child Abuse
- Sex Crimes
- Robbery and Burglary
Pursuant to U.C.A Section 30-3-10.10 “The court shall consider evidence of domestic violence, if presented.” So you need to be prepared to provide to the Judge answers to questions like: what sort of evidence, if any, exists against you? Were you actually convicted, or just accused? If you were convicted, how long ago did the crime take place?
Depending on the answers to these and more questions, and the evidence you have to support them, the Judge may be more or less inclined to believe you could pose a threat to the safety and best interests of your child.
Thus it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can represent you in court. To schedule a free legal consultation, call us today.