When parents encounter disputes related to child custody, these matters can be fraught with emotion, and multiple types of issues may be raised that could affect the outcome of a case.
In high-conflict situations or cases where parents may be concerned about the safety and well-being of their children, criminal offenses or other potentially unsafe actions committed by a parent may play a role in the decisions that are made.
How Can a DUI Conviction Affect My Child Custody Case?
Arrests for drunk driving or convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) can be especially consequential, and they could be a significant factor considered in family court proceedings related to the custody of children.
If you have ever been arrested for DUI, you will need to understand how this could potentially affect decisions related to your children that will be made during your divorce. A DUI arrest that occurs after the completion of your divorce may also have serious consequences, and you may not only need to defend against criminal charges, but you may need to take steps to protect your parental rights and determine how you can avoid disruptions to your family life and your relationship with your children. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can make sure you will be able to address these issues correctly.
The Impact of a Previous DUI Conviction on Child Custody Decisions
In cases involving child custody, the primary concern addressed by a family court judge will be the best interests of the children. A judge will consider many factors, including the safety of the children and the stability of the home environment. If you had a DUI conviction at any point in the past, this might raise concerns about your ability to provide a safe and stable home for your children.
A DUI conviction may be seen as a sign that you have exhibited poor judgment in the past and that you could potentially behave in ways that may put your children at risk. These factors may affect a judge’s decisions about whether you will share legal custody of your children and have the right to make decisions about issues such as education and medical care.
Depending on how long ago your conviction occurred, your history of drug or alcohol abuse, and other factors related to your children’s health and safety, your ability to share physical custody of your children may also be affected.
Fortunately, even if you do not have primary physical custody, you should still be able to have regular visitation or parenting time with your children. If a judge believes that it is necessary, certain restrictions may apply, such as a prohibition on using alcohol or drugs during or immediately before your parenting time or the requirement to undergo regular drug testing or receive treatment for substance abuse. With the help of a family law attorney, you can make sure you will be able to maintain a close relationship with your children while following any requirements that are put in place.
How a DUI Arrest May Affect Issues Related to Child Custody
If you already have a child custody order in place, being arrested for intoxicated driving may jeopardize your ability to maintain custody. Even if you are not convicted, the other parent may bring the arrest to the court’s attention and ask for modifications to your child custody agreement.
If a family court judge believes that your children may be at risk of harm, you may face restrictions to your parenting time, or you could even lose legal or physical custody altogether.
Due to your DUI arrest, you may be accused of being unable to provide the proper care for your children, or the other parent may claim that you are likely to engage in risky behaviors that could affect your children’s safety. Even if you are not convicted of DUI charges, you may face a suspension of your driver’s license, which could affect your ability to provide transportation for your children when necessary.
After reviewing the facts of the case, a judge may decide to modify your parenting time schedule and reduce the amount of parenting time you have with your children. Other restrictions or requirements may also be put in place, such as requiring you to attend rehab or have supervision present during your parenting time.
An attorney can help you take proactive steps to address any concerns about your ability to parent following a DUI arrest. You may want to consider enrolling in an alcohol counseling or treatment program even if you have not been ordered to do so by a court. You should also be prepared to submit to random drug and alcohol testing. Taking these proactive steps will show the court that you are committed to sobriety and that you are taking steps to address any concerns about your ability to parent.
Get Legal Help With DUI Defense
A DUI arrest or conviction can have far-reaching consequences, impacting every area of your life. If you have been charged with DUI, it is important to seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. An experienced DUI defense attorney can help you defend your rights and minimize the impact of the charges against you. In some cases, it may be possible to have the charges reduced or dismissed altogether.
An experienced attorney will know how to best approach your individual case to achieve the best possible outcome. They can also work alongside a family law attorney to ensure that any issues related to child custody will be addressed appropriately. By taking quick, effective action, you can protect your parental rights and ensure that you will be able to maintain positive relationships with your children going forward.
Michelle Behan is an Honorably Discharged Veteran of the United States Navy, where she served nearly ten years as a Cryptologist. She has been practicing law since 2013, and in 2017, Ms. Behan founded The Behan Law Group, P.L.L.C.