Can Criminal Charges Affect Child Custody?
Being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted. Nevertheless, merely being arrested for certain crimes can have a considerable impact on child custody cases.
The main issue that will come up in most divorce courts is the best interest of the child. A parent facing criminal charges may temporarily lose custodial and visitation rights to the child if the crime has a direct impact on the child’s welfare. According to the website of the Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. in Ocean County, the affected parent must resolve the matter quickly before it permanently impacts on child custody matters.
For example, the custodial parent is arrested for shoplifting. This is not the type of crime that has the potential to bring harm to a child, and the court will not generally remove the parent’s custodial rights. However, if the parent is arrested for drunk driving while the child was in the vehicle, this would raise concerns about the well-being of the child, and may result in the removal of the child from the custody of that parent. Whether this proves to be true or not, if the parent admits to having consumed alcohol in the company of the child, the court will likely restrict the rights of that parent for child custody.
Criminal charges that may impact on child custody include homicide, kidnapping, aggravated assault, rape, stalking, unlawful restraint, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of children, and incest. Laws differ from state to state, but in most cases being charged with these types of crimes are enough to strip the parent of their custodial rights until the matter is resolved one way or the other.
If you are charged with a crime that may affect your custodial rights, or are afraid for the safety of your child not in your custody, consult with the appropriate lawyer to find out what you should do. When it comes to the welfare of a child, no time should be lost in doing what needs to be done.