Can a Criminal Record Influence the Outcome of a Child Custody Case in New Jersey?

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When you and your partner split, there are many considerations you must make, especially if you share a child with the person you are separating from. However, if this person has a criminal record, it can impact how custody is awarded. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about how a criminal history can affect whether or not someone will win custody and how a Bergen County, New Jersey child custody lawyer can help you navigate this challenging time.

What Factors Influence Custody When a Parent Has a Criminal Record?

Several elements will influence the outcome of a child custody case, especially when one party has a criminal history. In this circumstance, the court will consider the following factors:

  • The type of crime(s) committed
  • The frequency of the offense(s)
  • The victim(s) of the crime(s)
  • When the crime(s) occurred
  • The punishment for the offense(s)

For example, if a person with a criminal record was charged with forging checks twenty years ago and has not committed another crime since, it will not carry as much weight as other, more severe, frequent offenses.

What Crimes are Considered More Heavily During a Custody Case?

In general, all crimes are taken into consideration when it comes to awarding custody of a child. However, there are typically three crimes that will be weighed more heavily than others. This includes violent, drug, and sex crimes. Traditionally, courts consider these more heavily, as those prone to violence are at an increased risk of endangering the child, while those charged with drug crimes may intentionally or unintentionally endanger the child by exposing them to the substances. Similarly, drug use can often lead to violence and clouded judgment, which can cause child neglect.

Sex crimes are the most influential, as those convicted of sexual assault under N.J.S. 2C:14-2 will not be awarded custody of any child. Similarly, for those convicted of internet sex crimes, child pornography, or indecent exposure, it is unlikely they will win custody. However, less severe sex crimes can warrant visitation rights.

How Can an Attorney Help Me Navigate Child Custody?

If you share a child with someone with a criminal record, you may be worried about their safety following a divorce. The courts will carefully consider all the factors of someone’s criminal history to ensure the child’s best interest. However, if you disagree with the court’s decision to award joint or partial custody, you may be unable to file an appeal.

When you need help with your child custody case, ensuring that you contact an attorney immediately is essential to protecting yourself and your child. At HD Family Law, we understand how significant your family is. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help fight for your child’s best interest during a custody battle.

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