Obtaining child custody in Florida is challenging when you have a criminal record. In matters of child custody, what’s best for the child always comes first. Your criminal record could cause the court to doubt your ability to provide good parenting. However, you can still have a chance at custody depending on the circumstances of your criminal history.
Charge or conviction?
Whether or not you have a charge or a conviction affects your child custody chances. A conviction means you were tried and convicted of the crime. A family court may view this more seriously than a pending charge.
A charge means you’ve been accused, but nothing has been decided. You haven’t had your day in court, and it’s possible that you’re innocent or the charges could even get dropped. A family court will acknowledge the charge, but it might not count as heavily against you as a conviction.
Felony or misdemeanor?
A family court will consider the seriousness of your conviction or charge. Misdemeanors are crimes that are considered less serious than felonies. Shoplifting, vandalism, reckless driving and trespassing are examples of misdemeanors. Any criminal activity can hurt your chances at custody, but crimes such as these might carry less weight than felonies.
Unlike misdemeanors, felonies are severe crimes that carry heavy punishment. Murder, sexual assault, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon are felonies. Depending on the crime, a felony charge or conviction might lead the family court to believe that you’re a threat to the child.
Several other circumstances can hurt your request for child custody. For example, a criminal record involving drugs or alcohol can count against you in court. Also, if you’ve shown violence against your child or another child, that will negatively affect your custody request.
A criminal record doesn’t automatically ruin your chances of having child custody. You might have to work harder to show that you’re trustworthy and can provide good care for your child.