In Michigan, custody matters are decided in “the best interest of the child,” and there are specific things that a judge will consider when deciding custody of minor children. One of the factors that a judge will take into consideration is the moral fitness of the parents when it comes to influencing the child, and this may include whether or not a parent has a criminal record.
The best interest of the child
One of the most important things the judge will try to determine in a child custody case is which parent will provide a more stable home environment for the child. They will also look for evidence of domestic violence and parental drug or alcohol abuse, as well as the use of excessive discipline. Because a criminal conviction could impact the stability of the home should a parent not be able to obtain employment or be required to be monitored at home, the judge may determine the other parent is better-suited for custody.
Types of criminal convictions
Not all criminal convictions can impact child custody. However, convictions for drug possession, especially if someone has been convicted multiple times, may have an impact on the decision–they could indicate the parent suffers from addiction. Multiple DUI charges may also have an effect on whether a parent receives custody of the children, as the judge may have concerns that the parent may drive under the influence with the children in the car. A conviction for domestic violence, even if the child was not involved, will not be viewed well by the courts.
Older and minor convictions
It is unlikely a conviction for shoplifting decades ago will have an impact on a child custody hearing. The judge will also take into consideration any time served in jail, community service or other atonements made for the crime. Speeding and parking tickets are also not usually considered as part of a custody hearing. Even a drug or violence conviction may not keep you from gaining custody if you underwent counseling and have not had any additional convictions for a significant amount of time. However, it is important to provide your child custody attorney details on any conviction that may appear on your record so that they know how to proceed in court.
When it comes to child custody, it is critical to talk to an attorney to learn what rights you have under the law. This is especially important if you have a criminal conviction that may impact your ability to gain custody.