Does a Criminal Record in Florida Affect Child Custody?

A criminal record in Florida can impact your life in many different ways. From jobs to family, your life can change drastically. But does a Florida criminal record affect child custody? It certainly can. If you have been arrested in Florida, it is important to seek out experienced legal counsel. This will help you to not only get the best possible outcome in your case, but it can also make a big difference when it comes to child custody.

What is the Impact of a Criminal Record on Child Custody?

A family court judge has broad discretion when it comes to making a decision about child custody. The judge will give weight in his or her decision-making process on several factors, including:

  • The nature and type of offense
  • How old you were at the time of the conviction
  • The type and length of sentence for the conviction
  • The number of convictions you have on your record
  • The victim of the offense

Understanding the Factors in Detail: Criminal Record and Child Custody

Delving deeper into the details, let’s understand what each factor means:

The nature and type of offense are pivotal in determining how a criminal record might influence child custody. For instance, charges related to domestic violence, weapons, or assault and battery have a greater likelihood of swaying the court’s decision regarding child custody. These are considered more severe than other offenses and hence, can considerably impact the court’s decision.

Similarly, if you have convictions related to substance abuse, such as DUI, these too can have a detrimental effect on your custody case. Given the seriousness of these offenses, the judge can authorize drug tests during the course of legal proceedings.

An important factor to consider is your age at the time of conviction. If a substantial amount of time has passed since your conviction, it may not influence the custody decision as much. However, the frequency and number of offenses, along with the type and duration of sentence received, are all taken into account by the judge.

Lastly, if one of your children was the victim of an offense for which you were convicted, the court might decide to limit or even terminate your parental rights.

Why Criminal Records Affect Child Custody Hearings

Criminal record considerations form a critical part of the overall evaluation during a child custody case:

Violence-related offenses: Convictions for domestic violence, assault, or child abuse can lead to doubts about the child’s safety with the parent.

Substance abuse convictions: A history of DUI, drug possession, or other substance-related crimes may raise concerns about the parent’s ability to provide a stable, healthy environment.

Repeated legal offenses: Convictions indicating a disregard for law and order, like repeated theft or fraud, could influence the court’s assessment of a parent’s moral fitness.

In these instances, it becomes essential to demonstrate rehabilitation and a commitment to providing a safe and nurturing environment for the child. Your lawyer can assist in presenting this information effectively to the court.

Effect of Expunged or Sealed Criminal Records

In Florida, an expunged or sealed criminal record is generally not considered during child custody proceedings, but there are exceptions:

Child-related convictions: Certain types of convictions, particularly those related to child abuse or domestic violence, may still impact the case.

Child safety considerations: If the court has reason to believe that the child’s safety or welfare is at stake, it may decide to consider a sealed or expunged record.

Although the law offers a path for those with criminal records to move forward, the exceptions in child custody cases highlight the ongoing impact a criminal record may have. It’s important to consult with your attorney to understand how these laws apply to your case.

Consequences of Failing to Disclose a Criminal Record

In child custody cases, honesty regarding your criminal record is crucial:

Loss of credibility: Failing to disclose your criminal record to the court, the child’s other parent, or your attorney can lead to a loss of credibility in court.

Legal sanctions: Undisclosed criminal records may result in sanctions that may affect the outcome of the custody decision.

The potential consequences underscore the importance of complete transparency in legal proceedings. Your attorney can provide advice on how to disclose and discuss your criminal record, ensuring that it is addressed appropriately in your child custody case.

Can a Parent with a Criminal Record Obtain Supervised Visitation?

If full or joint custody seems unlikely due to a parent’s criminal record, courts often consider alternatives:

Supervised Visitation: This allows the parent to maintain a relationship with their child under monitored circumstances, ensuring the child’s safety.

Therapeutic Supervised Visitation: This involves a mental health professional, providing an additional layer of support and guidance.

These options illustrate the court’s commitment to preserving a child’s relationship with both parents, where possible and safe, despite past offenses. As each case is unique, it is crucial to discuss these possibilities with your legal representative.

Working with the Legal System: How to Navigate

It is crucial to remember that a criminal record doesn’t automatically determine the outcome of your custody case. Demonstrating rehabilitation, personal growth, and a stable home environment can all contribute to a favorable outcome. Here are some steps you can take:

Show evidence of Rehabilitation: This could include completion of anger management courses, counseling sessions, or rehabilitation programs. The court values sincere efforts at self-improvement and may consider these positively in your case.

Prove a Stable Home Environment: Courts want to ensure that the child will be living in a secure and nurturing environment. Evidence of stable employment, a secure residence, and a supportive network of family and friends can help your case.

Get Expert Legal Help in Criminal Defense and Child Custody

Does a criminal record affect child custody? It certainly can.

As you can see, a criminal record in Florida can affect child custody in various ways. With all of these factors being considered, this is why it is so important to have the right Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida on your side when you are facing criminal charges. Whether it is a DUI, first offense, probation violation, or other types of charges, it is in your best interests to get an excellent attorney. This will give you the legal representation you need in matters that can change your family situation and your whole life.

Dean G. Tsourakis is an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney that understands the complexity of the judicial system, including Florida’s family courts. He has experience in both Family Law and Criminal Law with over 38 years of experience as a State Prosecutor and Criminal Defense Attorney. He has helped many individuals and families and tried hundreds of cases in the greater Clearwater, Florida area.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.