When and how criminal records impact child custody
Photo of Attorneys T. Noel Brooks and Jesse Baez walking outside.
Photo of T. Noel Brooks and Jesse Baez

When and how criminal records impact child custody

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2023 | Family Law

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.

Violent crimes

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:

  • Kidnapping
  • Sex crimes
  • Stalking
  • Aggravated assault
  • Homicide

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.