can criminal record affect child custody

Incarceration, fines, and probation are the obvious consequences of a criminal conviction.

But convictions—especially felony convictions—have collateral consequences too.

One of the most significant is the effect a criminal conviction has on the custody of your children. 

If you have concerns about how your criminal case will affect your custody rights, you need a law firm with extensive experience and resources to fight for you.

At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, our criminal defense and family lawyers work together to provide you with comprehensive legal services designed to protect your rights. 

Our award-winning attorneys will explain all of your options thoroughly, so you understand the best strategy for your defense.

Child Custody Disputes

Family courts in Ohio understand the important role that both parents play in their children‘s lives.

However, family courts do not automatically grant parenting rights to both parents. Instead, the court has to perform a legal balancing test.

Courts consider many things when making custody determinations, but the best interests of the child are at the very top of the list.

Ohio law spells out the best interests of the child test. Under this test, the judge deciding custody must examine 10 factors—one of which is whether either parent has a criminal conviction on their record.

Safety and Welfare of the Children Are Most Important

The court’s primary concern is the safety and welfare of the child. To decide if a parent with a conviction on their record provides a safe haven for the child, a judge considers several factors.

A judge could consider factors such as:

  • The age of the conviction;
  • The identity of the victim, if any;
  • The facts of the case;
  • Whether the parent acted violently;
  • Whether there was an allegation of drug possession or use; and
  • The type of sentence the parent received. 

In determining what weight to give the conviction, a judge might consider other factors as well.

The law requires the judge to determine whether a parents’ previous convictions involve sexually explicit crimes, crimes of violence towards family or household members, or the neglect of a child.

A judge very closely examines prior convictions for these types of offenses because they are highly relevant to protecting children.

How Does a Criminal Record Affect Child Custody?

As we’ve discussed, the judge looks at a variety of factors concerning a conviction when determining the best interests of the child.

Ohio law categorizes crimes as misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanor offenses are less serious than felonies. 

You might wonder, How can a misdemeanor affect child custody? A misdemeanor conviction might concern a judge if it shows a history of violence or substance abuse.

For example, a DUI conviction is a misdemeanor, but multiple DUI convictions can be evidence of an alcohol problem.

Likewise, an assault or battery may only be charged as a misdemeanor—but multiple offenses may indicate that the parent has trouble controlling their anger.

This, in turn, can endanger a child and may affect whether the judge grants you custody or not.

How Does a Felony Affect Child Custody?

Judges look at felony convictions similarly. If there have not been additional convictions in many years and the prior felony is old, then the judge might not place too much weight on it.

However, if you are still incarcerated, on probation, or if the convictions involved violence, then the judge might place significant weight on your priors. Additionally, a judge may use pending criminal charges against you.

A felony conviction by itself might not disqualify you from seeing your child.

However, in determining the best interests of the child, a judge may also look at:

  • The other parent’s wishes;
  • The child’s wishes;
  • The mental and physical health of both parents;
  • How the child and the parent interact; 
  • If the parent previously honored court-approved parenting time; and
  • If the parent has stable housing.

A judge might not decide that a conviction on its own disqualifies a parent from having custody.

However, the consequences of a felony conviction, such as lengthy incarceration, can prevent the convicted parent from having any relationship with their child.

Failing to cultivate or maintain a relationship with your child can hurt your chances of winning custody. 

Can Expunged Records be Used Against You in Family Court?

An expunged record removes your charges from the public record. Therefore, if you have an expunged record, your co-parent might not know about it.

As a result, an expunged record typically will not be used against you.

If you have convictions or prior charges on your record and you’re worried about how they might affect your custody rights, you should consider speaking with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

They can tell you what steps to take to minimize the impact of prior criminal charges.

How Can a Convicted Felon Get Custody of a Child?

Perhaps you have an impression the males are at a disadvantage in child custody proceedings. 

You might even wonder, Can a father get joint custody if he has a criminal record? Whether you are the mother or father, showing the judge that you can be a safe and positive parent for your child will help you retain custody.

It’s essential to remain clean and sober, find employment, and attend counseling if required. Additionally, you have to obey all family court orders.

You can do that by visiting with your child as scheduled, being a cooperative co-parent, and paying child support.

A criminal record is only one aspect of your history. Being a responsible and loving parent will go a long way in helping you maintain a relationship with and custody of your child.

Call Us If You Have Additional Questions About Your Child Custody Rights

Perhaps avoiding a criminal conviction is the best way to ensure that you never have to ask, Does a criminal record affect child custody?

At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers will assemble a defense strategy that best suits your needs.

Contact Gounaris Abboud, LPA, at 937-222-1515 to speak with an award-winning attorney today.

We have been named SuperLawyers in Ohio and Cincinnati for several years running. These accolades demonstrate our commitment to every one of our clients.

We also enjoy a five-star Google rating, which shows that our clients are extremely satisfied with our representation. Join our legions of happy clients by contacting us today.

Author Photo

Nicholas Gounaris

Nick Gounaris attended Miami University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree and then went on to attend
University of Dayton School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate. In 2011, Mr. Gounaris was awarded a 10.0 “Superb” rating by Avvo, which is an attorney rating website recognized around the nation. He provides clients of the firm with competent legal representation and focuses his law practice in the areas of DUI DefenseCriminal Defense, Family Law Issues, Federal Criminal Law and Personal Injury cases.

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