If you and your child’s other parents cannot agree on child custody yourselves, you will have to petition the court and leave the determination in their hands. However, if you have a previous DUI conviction or a criminal record, you may be worried about how that will affect your case. In this article, we will discuss the ways in which a DUI or related conviction can impact your case.
How Might a DUI Affect Your Child Custody Case
Florida Statute § 61.13 outlines the factors that a court will weigh when making child custody determinations. Amongst these considered factors is “the moral fitness of the parents,” which refers to a parent’s circumstances, character, and/or lifestyle in relation to how they might affect their child’s moral development. If the court believes a parent is not morally fit, they may reduce or withhold custody. Your moral fitness may be complicated if you are proven to:
- Be abusive (mentally, physically, verbally, or emotionally)
- Engage in illicit or illegal behavior
- Have a drug or alcohol addiction
A DUI conviction on your record could make your case complex as this charge is both illegal and could speak to addiction. The other party may also try to allege you have a substance abuse issue if you have a DUI or related offense conviction. If you have a DUI conviction, your attorney may use the following evidence to disprove an allegation that you are morally or generally unfit.
- AA meeting attendance
- Completion of a rehabilitative program
- Psychological evaluations
- Testimonies (from experts, friends, or witnesses)
- Consistently improved behavior (from the time of your arrest/conviction)
Every case is unique, and how your DUI conviction affects your custody case can vary based on your case specifics.
- How long ago did your DUI conviction occur? If the DUI conviction occurred many years ago, your case won’t be as complicated as if the charge is more current.
- Have you attended DUI treatment or a school? If you received treatment or attended a course, even with a conviction, you can prove that you are working to change your behavior and avoid endangering yourself or your child in the future.
- Do you have more than one DUI on your record? If you have multiple DUI convictions, that can complicate your case, especially if they are recent or were obtained within close proximity of each other.
- Was your child or a minor in the vehicle with you at the time of your arrest? If your child or another minor was in the car while you were under the influence, the other party can argue that you endangered and/or neglected the child.
- Do you have any other convictions on your record? As we mentioned, whether you have engaged in or been convicted for other illegal behavior can affect how morally fit the court believes you are. If you have other convictions in addition to a DUI conviction, your case can become more complex—even if you only have one other conviction. You should be honest with your legal counsel concerning your criminal history and arrest record so they can create a unique case strategy for you.
- Has the other party alleged that you have an addiction problem? If it can be proven that you have a substance abuse problem or addiction, that can negatively affect your case as you may be deemed unfit or unsafe. They may use social media posts, text messages, your conviction/record, and other information as evidence against you.
- Has your conviction impacted your license status or income? A DUI conviction can be quite costly; your insurance rates may triple, and paying the fines, court fees, and other related costs can negatively impact your financial stability. In some cases, you may have lost your license, and even if you are able to obtain a hardship license, the court or opposing counsel may question your ability to accommodate your child’s needs (i.e. transportation to and from school, events, extracurriculars, etc. or their basic needs as it relates to your financial welfare).
Get Legal Help
At the Law Office of Jody L. Fisher, we can help parents navigate their child custody cases. As we practice both family law and criminal defense, we are uniquely positioned to understand how a criminal record can affect their child custody case. Once you retain our services, we can give you individualized legal counsel and help you develop a solid case strategy.
To learn more about how we can help you, schedule a case consultation online or via phone (352) 503-4111 today. With over 20 years of experience, our attorney is equipped to help you.