Family court judges have a legal obligation to make child custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. Under certain circumstances, a Virginia parent with a criminal history could face limitations on these rights.
A history of one or more violent felonies could likely prompt a court to deny a parent custody. Violence committed against the person’s child, or any child for that matter, represents a special concern. Supervised visitation may remain an option if a judge denies actual custody.
Many actions could result in a felony conviction. For this reason, courts do not regard all felonies as a deal breaker for access to children. However, convictions for these felonies will raise too many concerns about child safety:
- Sex crimes
- Aggravated assault
Substance abuse crimes
Family courts take seriously allegations of substance abuse, but convictions for drug or alcohol-related crimes bear the most weight when judges make child custody decisions. A family court may worry that the parent will either expose children to harmful substances or threaten their safety due to frequent intoxication. A parent struggling with a substance abuse disorder may also lack stable employment and not have the ability to provide suitable housing for children.
A conviction for driving under the influence of an intoxicant might not necessarily prevent a court from granting a parent custody or visitation. A judge could regard a single DUI conviction many years in the past as irrelevant to the current situation. On the other hand, multiple drunk driving or drug offenses paint a picture of irresponsibility that would call into question the safety and well-being of children.