In many cases, a previous felony conviction, such as a DUI or felony drug charge, can make it difficult for you to gain custody of your children if their other parent does not have a similar conviction on their record. However, unlike violent crimes, such as domestic violence, a felony conviction related to drug or alcohol use will not automatically disallow you from gaining partial or full custody of your children. In cases where the other parent is unavailable or cannot provide a stable home for your child, you may be able to win full custody of your child. Following these tips and getting the advice of an experienced lawyer can help improve your chances of being awarded custody.
Show That You Have Reformed
If you have a drug conviction, you may have to submit physical tests to prove that you are no longer using illegal substances. Besides these tests, you can show that you have changed your ways by submitting proof or testimony that you regularly attend a support group or have successfully completed therapy or rehabilitation.
Demonstrate That You Retaining Custody Is In Your Child's Best Interest
Child custody is awarded according to the child's best interest. To show that you gaining full or partial custody is in your child's best interest, you should concentrate on demonstrating the following things:
- You currently have a stable, strong relationship with your child, and your child would miss out on this relationship if you are not awarded custody.
- You are able to provide a safe, stable home for your child. This can include having a stable job and a safe, clean home.
- You are best suited to help your child have a consistent life. For example, if you are already the main point of contact for your child's teachers and regularly take your child to their extra curricular activities, you should emphasize this.
Show that Your Previous Habits Will Not Endanger Your Child
A main concern a judge will have when awarding custody is the safety of the child. For example, if you have a DUI, the judge may be concerned that you will not be able to safely and responsibly transport your child places. Alternatively, if you have a drug conviction, they may be concerned that you or other people will use drugs around your child and put them in danger.
To show that your previous habits will not endanger your child, you should show that you have taken safety measures to protect your child in case of a relapse. For example, cutting ties with previous friends or associates who use drugs can be helpful. Additionally, installing an interlock device that will not allow you to start your vehicle if you have been drinking can also show greater responsibility.
Know the Various Types of Custody
Custody is not an all or nothing issue. If you are not awarded physical custody of your child, you may still have partial legal custody, which allows you to make important decisions about your child's life. It is important that you recognize the importance of legal custody and fight to keep your rights. If you have legal custody of your child, it may be easier to gain physical custody in the future.
Follow the Court's Orders Regarding Custody and Visitation
It is important that you follow the court's decision once it is made. For example, if you have visitation rights, you should schedule regular visits with your child and follow through with them. This can show that you have respect for the law and can be a stable influence in your child's life, which may help you in later custody hearings.
If you have a drug or alcohol conviction on your record, it can be difficult to gain full custody of your child. However, it is not impossible. Talk to a custody attorney about your specific case to determine what steps you should take.