Will your criminal record affect your custody case?

Nebraska courts, like all other courts throughout the nation, make child custody determinations based on "a child's best interests." Unfortunately, the child's best interest standard is purposefully vague, as every child's circumstances and best interests are different. That said, most courts take several of the same factors into consideration when determining with which parent a child should live. Some such factors courts consider include the location of the child's school, each parent's living situation, each parent's schedule, the age and sex of the child and the child's wishes. Most courts will also consider any parental history of alcohol or drug abuse, violence and criminal behavior.

According to FindLaw, the courts will consider any criminal convictions or charges against a parent before assigning custody. However, just because the courts consider criminal history does not mean they will use their findings to justify awarding more or less custody to one parent over the other. Some criminal convictions may have no bearing on custody while others can negatively impact a parent's odds of receiving the same amount or more parental rights as the other parent.

Though it is difficult to say which criminal convictions may harm your custody case, FindLaw shares a few examples. For instance, if your record shows multiple arrests for drug possession, the courts may determine that you have an addiction and are therefore unfit to parent your child. Likewise, if your record contains multiple DUI charges, the courts may determine you have an alcohol abuse problem, which may cause them to fear that you cannot keep your child safe.

Domestic violence charges are perhaps the biggest red flag in the court's eyes. Even if your child was not the victim of your aggression, a domestic violence conviction may adversely affect any effort on your part to gain physical custody of your child. In the worst-case scenario, a domestic violence conviction may lead to the termination of your parental rights.

The content shared here is for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice. 

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  • Nebraska State Bar Association
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