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Child Custody

The Impact of Criminal Charges on Child Custody

Everyone makes mistakes. But making a criminal mistake during a divorce or child custody dispute can have serious implications on your access to your children and your share of parenting time.

Even with a court-ordered custody arrangement in place, there can be consequences if one parent gets arrested or convicted — even if they don’t serve jail time. The other parent may have a solid reason to petition a Michigan family law judge to change the order in favor of the non-criminal parent.

So what impact will criminal charges have on your child custody arrangement? If your child’s other parent is arrested, what are your options?

Custody Orders Are in the Best Interest of the Child

Michigan family law judges weigh the child’s best interests when deciding on custody and living arrangements for children. A parent with a criminal record may be perceived as unable to raise a child in a safe environment.

If that parent goes to jail, then they clearly cannot parent the child in a home. As a result, they will lose at least physical custody of the child and possibly decision-making rights, too.

That said, some criminal charges have a much worse effect on your custody arrangements than others. If you’re charged with a violent crime, a judge will likely determine that you’re a potential danger to your child. Drug and firearms charges can also affect the custody arrangement.

Options for the Non-Charged Parent

You’re required to act in your child’s best interests, including by ensuring that they aren’t exposed to violence or unsafe situations. If the child’s other parent is arrested, especially for a felony or a drug charge, it’s your responsibility to protect your child.

You do have a few options, starting with filing an emergency custody order. You and your divorce lawyer can petition the court for emergency sole custody of the child until the other parent’s situation resolves.

The outcome of the arrested parent’s charges will usually guide you to make the appropriate motions for seeking permanent custody changes. For example, if the parent is convicted and sent to prison, you’d understandably receive sole custody.

Options for the Criminally Charged Parent

If you’ve been arrested, you may still be able to preserve custody of your child. For instance, non-violent charges like shoplifting or traffic citations may not affect your arrangement at all.

However, it’s critical to call your divorce lawyer as soon as possible after being charged with a crime. Although they likely won’t represent you in criminal charges, they need to know about anything affecting your child custody situation.

You may be able to negotiate a lesser charge or lesser sentence. If you do, the family law judge might be more willing to allow you to retain custody. If you go to jail, though, you may have to demonstrate that you’re responsible and rehabilitated in order to have unsupervised custody of your child upon your release.

Criminal Charges Can Easily Disrupt Child Custody in Michigan

If you’ve been arrested or if your child’s other parent is facing criminal charges, the skilled family law attorneys at Gucciardo Family Law can help. Contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation.

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We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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