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How can my criminal history affect my child custody case in Indiana?

gather and daughter sitting at a table

Defining criminal history in Indiana:

  • Criminal history can include any misdemeanor or felony charge that you have ever been convicted of.
    • Expungement can sometimes still be considered, depending on the state and county courts and laws. For more information regarding expungements and how an expunged record might affect your child custody case in Indianapolis please consult with a family law and criminal defense attorney.

Defining child custody:

There are different types of child custody such as legal and physical custody or joint and sole custody.

  • Physical custody refers to the parent that has the child physically residing with them, whereas legal custody refers to the parent that can make all legal decisions regarding the child. An example of legal custody includes which school a child will attend, versus physical custody where the child physically resides.
  • Furthermore, joint custody means both parents of the child are willing to co-parent, and each one will have their share of responsibility for the child. Sole custody refers to only one parent having both the legal and physical custody of the child.
  • It is important to think about which type of custody would fit your child’s lifestyle best and to have realistic expectations. For example, if you have not been in your child’s life for many years, perhaps parenting time and visitations may be a reasonable start; versus filing for sole custody, that might not be an immediately feasible option.

What are the top three factors’ judges take into consideration in a child custody case in Indiana?

  • As in any case involving child custody, a judge will look into each of the parents’ backgrounds, including:
    • Current living situation – is your home suitable for a child to live in, is the space clean and safe.
    • Employment – do you have a stable income, something to support both yourself, your child and accommodate their needs such as living expenses, schooling, clothes, etc.
    • Criminal history - is there anything from your past that could endanger the health, safety, happiness and future of your child.
    • It might not always seem like it, but the court does actually want to keep both parents involved in the child’s life. It is a judge’s purpose to ensure they are making the most impartial decision but not at the cost of the health and safety of the minor. After careful review and consideration, a judge will make the best decision for the child – independent of each parent.

Can I get custody of my child even if I have a criminal record?

  • The answer is both yes and no. Each and every case is looked at independently and your criminal record will be reviewed exclusively by a judge depending on several key factors.
    • First, a judge will look at the type of cases you have in your criminal history. A felony will most always outweigh misdemeanor charges.
      • Realistically, offenses such as child abuse, child neglect, aggravated assault, kidnapping, or sexual assault will be held under much heavier scrutiny, than a misdemeanor such as public intoxication. If you are unsure how your criminal history may impact custody of your child, it is wise to consult with an experienced family law (and criminal defense attorney if you have any pending charges) for a thorough evaluation of your situation or ongoing court case.
    • Second, a judge will look at how recent the criminal conviction was. If there was a single criminal case over a decade ago, a judge might be more willing to overlook it versus someone who is a habitual offender with convictions as recent as the past few months.
    • Lastly, a judge will review all your prior criminal records. This will show the judge if there is signification criminal history to be accounted for and something that currently might put your child’s well-being at risk.

What is the biggest mistake to make in a custody battle?

One easy mistake to make during a child custody court battle, should you have criminal history, is not showing the judge you have learned from your past mistakes. A judge wants to know that you are a fit parent to care for your child, their well-being and their safety. Trying to hide any criminal records can throw suspicion on your integrity and intentions and why you are seeking custody of your child in the first place. It is beneficial to show the court you have learned from the consequences of your actions and that a past mistake will not define you, who you are as a parent and the example you want to set for your child.

Connect with a family law and criminal defense attorney in Indianapolis:

If you are in the middle of a child custody, visitation battle or just starting out on the path to regaining your parenting rights, it’s important to turn to a reliable law firm that specializes with your case needs. Having custody and visitation rights can be achieved, but you must also be realistic and know that it will be a lengthy and challenging process, but one worth all the effort for the benefit of your child and their future. If you would like to connect with an Indianapolis attorney regarding your case, you can contact the Law Offices of Eugene Mogilevsky directly by submitting an Online Contact Form or by calling our office at (317) 743-7958 and scheduling a consultation with a family law attorney or a criminal defense lawyer.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational and informational purposes only and is not to be taken as legal advice in any capacity. Reading this blog does not constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship.