As a parent, your children mean the world to you. Often, however, adults can make mistakes that affect their ability to see their kids.
In our system, a criminal conviction can haunt you long after you’ve paid your debt to society, especially if you were convicted of a violent crime.
In this article, we explore the potential impact of a violent crime conviction on your ability to see your children.
The Implications of a Violent Crime Conviction on Child Custody
In any custody case, the safety of the child is always the primary concern. Often, judges consider a parent’s criminal history in custody decisions, whether those crimes were violent or not. The court may view a violent crime conviction as an indication of a parent's character. It may assume that you cannot provide a safe environment for your child.
The Role of Domestic Violence Charges in Child Custody Decisions
Depending on the circumstances, domestic violence can be viewed as a serious threat to the safety of a child. The court generally considers whether the child directly witnesses or experiences the violence. Even when children are shielded from the alleged assault, a judge will look at these allegations as part of the parent’s overall character.
Child visitation is not the same thing as custody. When you have visitation rights, you can spend a predetermined amount of time with the kids, and you must return them by the appointed time.
In cases where one parent has a violent criminal record, their visitation could be heavily restricted. They may be forced to see their children only with the other parent present, or they may have supervised visits with a social or mental health worker.
How Mental Health and Substance Abuse Can Impact Child Custody Cases
Judges may consider factors such as the severity of the condition, the ability of the affected parent to care for the child, and any potential risk of harm to the child.
A parent struggling with mental health or substance abuse should provide evidence of their efforts to address and manage their condition. This can include participating in therapy or attending support groups.
Other Factors Courts Consider When Evaluating Parental Fitness
- Willingness to co-parent effectively
- The child's educational and emotional needs
- The history of each parent's involvement in the child's life
- Ability to provide shelter, food, clothing, and other necessities for the child
Proving Your Parental Fitness When You Have a Criminal Record
If you have a criminal record and want full or joint child custody, don’t lose hope. Ultimately, courts want what is in the best interests of children. If you can prove that being in your child’s life is what’s best for that child, you may be able to gain the custody you deserve.
Here are some steps you can take to prove your fitness as a parent.
Seek Legal Advice
Speak with an attorney who has family law experience. They understand the impact of criminal records on child custody cases. They can guide you through the legal process and help you understand your rights.
Focus on proving your usefulness as a reformed citizen. Secure and maintain stable employment, and create a safe, clean living environment for your child. Keep records of any positive changes you've made in your life since your conviction. Such records include the completion of treatment programs, volunteering in your community, mental health treatment, and so on.
Attending counseling or therapy sessions can show that you're taking responsibility for your past and working on being a good parent. Such treatment helps you both legally and personally. Counseling can help you develop strategies for dealing with the challenges of life, parenting, and child custody proceedings.
When seeking custody, be honest and transparent about your criminal record. Don't hide anything or make excuses for your behavior. Instead, take responsibility for your actions and show how you've grown and changed since then.
Focus on Your Child's Best Interests
Ultimately, the court is focused on the best interests of your child. Show that you're willing to put your child's needs before your own. Moreover, work with your attorney to help prove how your child will flourish with you in their life.
Remember, everyone makes mistakes, but what’s important is how we learn and grow from them. With the right approach and mindset, it's possible to prove your parental fitness even with a violent criminal record.
Patton & Pittman Attorneys can help you fight for your child custody and visitation rights, regardless of whether you have a checkered past. For a free consultation, you can call us today at (931) 361-4477 or reach out to us online.