Writing A Brighter Future

Does a criminal record affect child custody in Arizona?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2022 | Divorce

As a parent, nothing matters more to you than your children and your relationship with them. When you divorce or split up with the other parent, you will need to figure out how to take care of your children and work together as co-parents.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the prospect of shared custody after a breakup or divorce. Sometimes, one parent will try to get full custody of the children. In such a situation, the parents will likely need to litigate their custody dispute while a judge decides what is best for the children.

Will your prior criminal record have an impact on custody matters?

Certain offenses can impact your rights

As you can probably guess, a conviction with a domestic violence, child abuse or negligence offense could potentially impact your custody proceedings, even if your children were not the people involved in the criminal matter. Some judges will also consider any records of domestic violence that the children witnessed, even if they were not the victims.

A parent does not need a violent criminal record to have their parenting rights at risk in an Arizona custody case. State law allows judges to consider substance abuse offenses like drunk driving charges and drug charges when handling custody matters. There is typically a presumption that a conviction from within the last 12 months will directly impact the custody arrangements a judge creates.

In fact, a criminal conviction isn’t even necessary for allegations of substance abuse to impact your custody rights. There only needs to be evidence that a parent abused drugs or alcohol within the last 12 months for that substance abuse to impact the custody case.

How can you protect your parenting rights?

There are several approaches possible for a parent concerned about losing their custody rights due to their criminal record.

You can prepare evidence about your relationship with the children specifically to show the courts that you would never mistreat them. You can also present evidence about how you have addressed the substance abuse problem or committed to self-improvement after your criminal offense. You may also want to try to settle with your ex outside of court.

Understanding the rules that apply to Arizona custody cases can help you prepare for your day in court.