If you are getting divorced and have a criminal record, you might have concerns on how it could impact your divorce in California. There is not one simple answer on how exactly it will affect your divorce as it will depend on a variety of factors and the issues that need to be resolved.
One of the main factors is the type of crime for which you were convicted. Most minor offenses won't affect your divorce proceedings, while other more serious crimes can be considered by the family court to make crucial decisions.
In other words, the exact type of allegations and convictions, along with how long has passed since the conviction will clearly play a major role on whether it will affect your divorce.
To give readers a better understanding on how a criminal record could affect your divorce, our Los Angeles family law attorneys are providing a review below.
What Type of Convictions Can Impact My Divorce?
There are certain types of criminal convictions that might come into play when you are going through the divorce process in California, including:
- Violent offenses
- Corporal injury to a spouse
- Sexual related crimes
- Domestic violence
- Drug crimes
- Serious felony offenses
For instance, let's say you were convicted of a felony case of child abuse. You should expect your ex-spouse to use this against you in an attempt to limit your child visitation rights.
In fact, it's possible you might be prevented from any visitation with your children, or the court might order supervised visitation.
Also, if you were convicted of committing a violent act against your spouse, then it's possible your divorce case will include a restraining order or protective order to keep your spouse safe, which can certainly make your divorce more complicated.
Best Interest of Child Standard in California
Depending on the type of felony crime, how long since it was committed, as well as other mitigating or aggravating factors, the family law court has the discretion to limit child custody and visitation.
If there is evidence or prior criminal conduct, you could find that it will make your child custody situation complicated.
Your spouse just might use your past criminal conduct against you to limit or eliminate your child custody and visitation rights.
Under California Family Code 3011, when a family law court is making child custody orders, they must consider what is in the best interest of your child.
Whether a spouse has engaged in criminal conduct is one of the factors used to determine what's best for your child.
California Family Code 3011 says a family law courts shall consider the following:
- If there is a history of domestic violence by either spouse against the child
- Habitual or continual abuse of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications
It should be noted that all California family law courts will consider all factors they believe are relevant in making a child custody decision, which certainly includes your past criminal history.
What Type of Convictions Might Cause Loss of Parental Rights?
When children are involved in a California divorce, the family law court judge will review the totality of all the evidence in order to determine the best interests of the child.
California Family Code 3020 states:
- “It is the public policy of this state to make sure the health, safety, and welfare of children will be the family court's primary concern in determining the best interests of children when making any orders related to physical, legal custody or visitation of a child. Children have the right to be safe from abuse, and that anyone who commits child abuse or domestic violence in a house where a child resides is detrimental to the health and welfare of the child.”
This means there are certain types of criminal convictions that will typically result in the judge either severely limiting or terminating parental rights, such as:
- Sex crimes against children
- Child pornography
- Child molestation
- Lewd acts with a minor
Any parent with a conviction for child abuse, child endangerment, or a sexual-related felony offense that involves a child will most likely lose their parental rights and have severe limitations imposed on their parenting time.
Similarly, serious violent crimes, especially those committed against their child, will often mandate termination of parental rights.
Your spouse or the family law court can use serious felony crimes to establish that the parent is unfit.
How Does Prior Criminal Record Affect My California Child Custody Case?
Evidence of prior criminal conduct might be hard to overcome if you're involved in a California child custody case.
If you are in a heated child custody debate with your spouse, then you should expect them to use your prior criminal history against you in an effort to eliminate visitation rights.
If you are involved in a child custody dispute, you need to contact an experienced California family law attorney to help you protect your child custody and visitation rights.
Remember, when a family law court judge is making child custody orders, they will ALWAYS consider what is in the best interest of the child discussed above. This includes past criminal conduct.
Felony and misdemeanor crimes
Whether or not a family court judge will consider prior felony or misdemeanor convictions in order to determine child custody will generally depend on:
- Specific type of crime
- How much time has passed since the crime was committed
- Whether the conviction has been expunged
If your prior criminal behavior is included within a category listed in the California Family Code, the judge could use it in order to make decisions on child custody rights.
Clearly, the court is much more likely to limit visitation with your child if you past criminal conduct includes serious violent related crimes, as opposed to criminal conduct not related to parenting.
Sex offenses are very serious and are more likely to affect your California child custody case. If your spouse presents evidence to the court of a sexual-related crime against you, then you will be facing an uphill battle.
Depending on the type and severity of the sex crime, it's not likely the child custody case will end favorably.
Contact a Divorce and Family Law Attorney in Los Angeles for Help
A criminal record could make your California divorce more complicated and expensive, especially when children are involved.
If you believe your prior criminal record might have an impact on your divorce proceedings, then you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to review the specific details.
If you have questions about what specifically might affect your divorce, call our California Certified Family Law Specialist. Our law firm has handled complex divorce cases in Los Angeles County.
Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles divorce and family law lawyers who represent clients throughout Southern California, including LA County, Ventura County, Simi Valley, and the San Fernando Valley.
Our law firm is located at 15821 Ventura Blvd #690 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our office for a free case consultation at (818) 528-3471.