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  Divorcing with a Criminal Record — Will I Lose Child Custody?

 Posted on March 24, 2022 in Child Custody in Illinois

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_85725289.jpg Divorcing your spouse presents many complex situations such as division of assets, determining financial responsibilities, and, when children are involved, agreeing upon child custody arrangements. Dealing with children during a divorce is difficult for all family members. Typically, parents and the court try to remain neutral and make arrangements that are in the children's best interests when determining custody. However, there are circumstances where parents are not awarded the custody or parenting time they would like with their children. Extenuating circumstances from the parent's past may present a hurdle when fighting for child custody.

Having a Criminal Record While Fighting For Custody

When judges determine custody during a divorce, they will consider many different factors. As mentioned, the court wants to create the best environment for the children. The judge will take into account:

  • Which parent is remaining in the marital home

  • Where each parent will be living 

  • The amount of parenting time a parent already dedicates to the children 

  • The family dynamic 

  • The wishes of the children 

  • Any circumstances that could be harmful to the children 

These circumstances are evaluated to determine a parent's fitness in having custody. Parental fitness includes a parent's ability to be responsible and keep the children safe. If a parent were to have a criminal record, the court would consider the type of crime, when it occurred, and whether the crime involved children.  

How the Type of Crime Affects You

If a parent fighting for custody has a criminal record, the type of crime will be considered by the court. Typically, non-violent crimes affect parenting time, visitation, and custody much less than violent crimes. Violent crimes that may affect your ability to retain custody of your children include sexual offenses, assault, or battery. For example, a previous conviction for child sex abuse would be much more likely to influence the court’s decision than a single conviction for drunk driving. 

Once the type of crime has been analyzed, the court will consider when the crime took place and how the parent turned their life around since then. A crime that occurred many years ago is less likely to hinder your ability to have custody than a criminal record from a few months ago. 

Adjusted Custody and Parenting Plans

If the court deems a parent unfit to have custody due to criminal behavior, there are still options available. The court may put the parent on a sort of probationary period — a parent may have to attend drug or alcohol classes and take drug tests to remain in the child's life. As a parent continues to prove their ability to follow the law, more and more parenting time can be awarded. Individuals can modify their parenting plans as new information becomes available.

Speak to a Will County Child Custody Lawyer

At the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C., our Will County family and divorce lawyers have the experience to help represent clients in child custody disputes. If you are a parent looking to retain custody, we have the resources to help you understand your situation and prepare you for the future. Please reach out to us at 815-666-1285 to schedule a free consultation with our office. 



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