Child Custody Rights of a Parent Who Was in Prison

A criminal record can severely affect your visitation and custody rights with your children. In fact, it can drastically reduce or even negate your rights altogether. If you have a history of criminal activity, your ex spouse can use this against you and obtain sole custody of your children. However, you do have rights. An experienced San Diego family law attorney will help you fight for those rights.

Serving the Best Interest of the Child at All Times

In any divorce where children are involved, the court will always make decisions based on the child’s best interest. There are a number of factors that determine what these best interests are. One factor is whether or not a parent has a history of criminal conduct. Courts in the state of California heavily consider:

  • If a parent has a history of domestic violence accusations or charges, whether against the other parent or the children.
  • If a parent has a history with alcohol or habitually abuses alcohol or controlled substances, whether illegal or prescribed.
  • If a parent has a prior misdemeanor or felony on his or her criminal record.

If there was a prior criminal offense on your record, the court will take into consideration the nature of the offense alongside other factors in your history. Additionally, they will look at how long it’s been since the offense and whether or not it has been expunged from your record.

How the Nature of the Crime Affects Your Rights

If the nature of your offense is related to drugs, alcohol, or domestic violence, the court will most likely limit your custody rights with your child. If the offense is unlikely to affect the wellbeing of your children, it will be less likely to affect your custody rights. Likewise, if your charges were expunged, the court will not weigh them as heavily, though they will still be taken into consideration.

Working Out a Plan in Mediation

Generally, the court will address allegations in a mediation. During a mediation, you and your ex-spouse will attempt to agree on a custody and visitation plan. Depending on your criminal history, your options may be limited.

For example, your spouse may want sole custody of your child and only offer you supervised visitation. Or you may agree to joint custody and a time-sharing plan. Either way, the court will base its decisions on how your prior criminal charges relate to the best interest of your child. Obviously, if you have a serious criminal history, like violent crimes or sex abuse, you will likely have your custody rights terminated.

Custody and Visitation are Not the Same Thing

Even if you are denied custody, you can still keep your visitation rights. These are your rights as a parent. While you may not be able to make decisions for your children, you can still spend time with them. Visitation rights can either be split evenly or be strictly limited to supervised visits. Again, this will depend on the nature of your criminal history. If you and your ex can agree on a custody and visitation plan in mediation, the court will be more likely to agree, as well. If you cannot agree, the court will make the final decision for you.

Contact a San Diego Family Lawyer to Protect Your Rights

Even though you have been in prison, you still have rights to see your child. Boyd Law in San Diego will help you fight for these rights. We are experienced across a wide variety of law practices, including family law and divorce law. Our San Diego divorce lawyers understand how emotional divorces and custody planning can be; we approach every case with compassion and vigilance. Contact us today to learn how we can help you protect your rights.