The Risks of Dating a Felon on Child Custody Battles
Why dating a felon might have an impact on your child custody
Are you thinking of dating a felon? Or did you learn the person you are dating is a felon? I'm not judging you ... but you know, there are lots of fish in the sea. However, if you insist on dating someone with a criminal record, and if you have custody of your children, even partial custody ... then this can be a complicated and risky situation–especially if your child's other parent finds out.
A background check
First: everyone who has custody of his or her children and is considering dating, you should get a background check on a potential partner. This is just common sense, y'all. It costs like $25-$50, but it's worth it to know what you are getting yourself into. If you don't have the cash, then do a simple Google search. It's amazing what the big brother knows about you.
But just so you know, $25-$50 is a whole lot cheaper than a custody battle. Or losing custody.
How dating a felon can impact child custody battles
- The legal system often views felons as a risk to children, which can put a partner's custody rights in jeopardy.
- Also, felons have a stigma that can impact the perception of a partner.
- Some felons aren't allowed to be around children, especially if they were found guilty of a crime against children.
- A partner might not be able to attend children functions, for the same reasons above.
- Dating a felon could trigger a costly custody battle.
- Your children might actually be at risk.
- Felons might be restricted from certain things, like owning a gun.
- Felons might have issues obtaining a job, and they are barred from certain professions.
- If a felon violates his or her parole, that person could suddenly not be a part of your–and your children's–lives.
Understanding the criminal justice system and child custody battles
Child custody battles can be stressful and emotionally draining. If you dated a person with a criminal record, that criminal record can be brought into a trial. The record might also be used as a reason to change custody, too.
In most states, you are required to disclose whether the children are in contact with a person with a criminal record. Not doing so puts you at risk for hiding information, which could negatively impact your next proceeding.
The legal system views felons as a risk to children. This is because the court believes that a person with a criminal record is more likely to engage in behavior that could harm a child.
Of course, this also depends on what felony your partner committed, the steps to mitigate the behavior, and the length of time since the crime occurred. There can be other factors to consider, as well, which depends on the judge and the state. The judge issuing your custody decision can weigh your partner's criminal record. The judge could find you or your partner credible or not credible about any of the above.
Not all crime is equal in the eyes of the court. A person who has committed a non-violent crime may have a better chance at a custody trial than someone who has committed a violent crime.
The legal implications of dating a felon
When a person with a criminal record is dating someone with children, it can have legal implications for everyone involved, most of all the children. This is especially true if you live together. In some worst case scenarios, the court could possibly view the parent with the children as being complicit in the other partner's actions.
It's important to understand that the legal implications of dating a felon will vary depending on the state where you live. Some states have laws that prohibit a person with a criminal record from living with children. Other states may not have specific laws, but the court may view it as a factor when making a custody determination.
Please speak to a competent family law attorney before moving in together.
But some good news: The court's decision is not final. If you believe that the court made the wrong decision, you may be able to appeal the decision. However, appeals can be expensive and time-consuming, so it's essential to work with an experienced family law attorney who can help you navigate the process.
You can also just not date a felon, and if so, you could ask the court for a new trial.
Court considerations when determining child custody
When the court is making a determination about child custody, they will consider several factors. These factors may include:
- The best interests of the child
- The relationship between the child and each parent
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- The ability of each parent to provide for the child's basic needs
- The child's preference
- The ability of each parent to co-parent effectively
This list may not be exhaustive. Do a Google search on "child custody factors" with your state. For example, in Pennsylvania, we have the following child custody factors:
§ 5328. Factors to consider when awarding custody.
(a) Factors.--In ordering any form of custody, the court shall determine the best interest of the child by considering all relevant factors, giving weighted consideration to those factors which affect the safety of the child, including the following:
(1) Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party.
(2) The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party's household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child.
(2.1) The information set forth in section 5329.1(a) (relating to consideration of child abuse and involvement with protective services).
(3) The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child.
(4) The need for stability and continuity in the child's education, family life and community life.
(5) The availability of extended family.
(6) The child's sibling relationships.
(7) The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child's maturity and judgment.
(8) The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent, except in cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary to protect the child from harm.
(9) Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child's emotional needs.
(10) Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child.
(11) The proximity of the residences of the parties.
(12) Each party's availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements.
(13) The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another. A party's effort to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party.
(14) The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party's household.
(15) The mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party's household.
(16) Any other relevant factor.
Notice that #16 is the "catch-all" factor. Many states have a similar catch-all.
Overcoming the stigma of dating a felon in court
You have your mind set on dating this one special person. You know this person has a criminal record. What do you do about it?
It's one of the unfortunes of life that once a person served his or her time, this person is often branded for life. That stigma is a challenge to overcome in life, as well as in court, especially if the other parent is trying to paint you in a negative light.
First of all, be honest and transparent. Hiding that you are dating a felon will cause more problems. By this, I don't mean shouting it from the rooftop. But disclose it in court documents.
Also, focus on what the person brings to the table. Do the children have a good bond with him? Does she go to therapy to overcome any lingering issues?
Working with a family law attorney
Child custody battles can be emotionally draining and complex. Working with an experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the process and protect your custody rights.
A family law attorney can help you understand the legal implications of dating a felon and provide guidance on how to present your case in court. They can also help you understand the court's decision and appeal the decision if necessary.
The importance of putting your child's best interests first
When you're in a child custody battle, it's essential to keep your child's best interests at the forefront of your mind. This means putting aside your personal feelings about your partner and focusing on what is best for your child.