If you’re going through a divorce, you probably have a lot of stress and worry already on your plate. The last thing you need is more demands on your time, energy, and emotions, which is bound to happen in if you’re charged with a crime like DUI (Driving Under the Influence) during your divorce proceedings.
Here are some ways that a divorce case could be affected by a DUI being filed against you at the same time:
1. More Emotional Stress
First and foremost, a DUI charge will lead to a lot more emotional stress, for both you and your spouse. This could also lead to negative effects on children, other family members, or close friends, since your stress will be reflected in your interactions with them, and your loved ones may pick up on it.
Even if your divorce proceedings have been initiated by mutual agreement, and conducted smoothly up until the time of your DUI, this will change. Your spouse will likely become frustrated, angry, and/or disappointed, and their anxiety will be even greater if an existing drinking problem has affected your marriage.
This situation could also end up with one or both of you being depressed and/or affecting your work, home life, and interactions with people around you. Divorce cases can be unpleasant enough on their own, and the increase in hostility between you and your spouse will just make them even worse!
2. Greater Financial Stress
The second thing to consider is the financial impact of a DUI case when you’re already involved in a divorce case, which is expensive enough on its own. Everything from hiring a DUI attorney to paying court fees, penalties, and damages can increase the financial strain you’re already dealing with.
Divorce lawyers are typically very expensive, as are the legal costs for which you will be responsible during divorce proceedings. When your finances are being split between you and your spouse, the added monetary burden of a DUI case could dip into your share of assets or savings, leaving you even worse off than you already are.
You can also expect a lot of other financial worries to pile up, especially if you are unable to attend work as a result of being jailed. You can also expect your pay to be docked if you constantly have to take time off from your job to show up in court for DUI hearings as well as divorce proceedings!
3. Impact on Child Custody
The next major impact of a DUI case will be the effect it has on the custody of your children. Typically, courts do not look kindly upon parents with a drinking problem, especially when very young children are involved. You may find a decision being taken in favor of your spouse.
The safety and wellbeing of children is the foremost concern when it comes to child custody decisions, and a non-DUI spouse could end up with sole custody. This would lead to a situation where you have absolutely no say in decisions taken regarding your child’s education, medical treatment, etc.
Here’s the most important thing to remember about being charged with a DUI during divorce cases: your spouse is likely to push for sole custody of your children as a result. Losing your driving privileges as a result of a DUI conviction could also cut down the amount of time you actually get to spend with your kids, even with shared custody!
4. Increase Complexity of Divorce Case
A DUI case on top of divorce proceedings will definitely make your ongoing divorce case more complex. Not only will there be more financial demands to take care of, but the question about whether or not your marital funds will be used to pay the legal expenses of a DUI could lead to more friction.
Even if they were amicable so far, the added stress, anxiety, and frustration of your DUI case could turn them completely against you. In addition, the time you have to spend on probation or in jail could also have negative repercussions on the divorce proceedings, meetings with lawyers, court appearances, and other commitments.
If it’s your spouse who’s charged with a DUI, you may find the court’s decision about spousal support leaning in their favor. The reasoning is that a DUI-spouse may be unable to support himself/herself, so no matter which of you is charged, make sure you have an experienced DUI lawyer.
Daljit Rakkar is a criminal defense and DUI attorney in Fresno, California. His general practice law firm specializes in criminal defense, DUI, DWI and injury, assisting people with cases in the United States District Court and the Superior Courts of Fresno, Madera, Kings, Kern, Merced, and Mariposa Counties. Rakkar also runs a non-profit organization that helps high school athletes in Central Valley obtain college scholarships. www.fresnolawmen.com