Getting charged with a crime and having a criminal record can change your life and future in many ways, including impacting your ability to be awarded custody of your children. While a criminal past can have a negative effect on your custody battle, a child custody lawyer can help you fight for your right to have time with your kids.
Here is what you need to know about criminal charges and child custody in Minnesota.
How Child Custody Works in Minnesota
Child custody matters are often addressed during divorces but may also involve a separate case. Regardless, child custody decisions are critical, as they affect a child’s future and well-being.
There are two forms of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody concerns where the children stay, while legal custody involves a parent’s ability to make important life decisions for their children, including those involving education, religious, and healthcare matters.
Depending on the situation, parents can share physical and legal custody when the court grants joint custody. However, under certain circumstances, sole custody is better for children, involving one parent having both physical and legal custody.
Determining Child Custody in Minnesota
Courts don’t take child custody determinations lightly. It can be challenging to make these decisions, especially when the family’s situation is complex.
To help judges make crucial child-related matters, Minnesota operates under the best interests of the child standard. Under this standard, there are select factors that judges must consider when making custody decisions. Under Minnesota law, there are 12 factors judges use to make child custody decisions. Some of these factors include:
- The child’s physical, emotional, and other needs
- Any special mental, medical, or educational needs the child may have
- Each parent’s history of providing care for the child
- The willingness and ability of each parent to provide continued care for the child
- The benefit to the child in maximizing parenting time with both parents
Among these factors, judges must also consider whether either parent has a criminal record. If so, the judge will investigate the parent’s charges, including the nature of the charges and the punishment imposed, if there was a conviction.
Considering all of this information, the judge will make their custody decision. When making their decisions, judges aim to focus on doing what they believe would be best for the child, considering the circumstances.
Can You Still Get Custody With a Criminal Record?
Judges heavily consider whether you have a criminal past. However, more importantly, judges evaluate the nature of your charge and how your crime could affect your ability to be a parent and raise your children.
For example, serious offenses, like felonies, and those involving bodily harm, like domestic violence and child abuse, are more likely to negatively impact your child custody case. Even if your charges don’t directly involve your kids or were committed before they were born, they could still harm your ability to get custody.
How Certain Charges Affect Custody
When your charges involve abuse or physical violence, the judge may decide to take away your parental rights. This is based on the assumption that, as a person with a violent past, it is not in your children’s best interests to spend time with a potentially abusive parent.
However, if your criminal past involves an isolated incident or a less serious crime like a misdemeanor, this may not greatly impact your chances of getting custody of your kids. Every situation is different.
If you’ve been charged with a crime and not yet convicted, it may not have a heavy bearing on your custody case, depending on the charge. Still, if you are later convicted, it could affect your custody and parental rights in the future.
One thing is for certain — you should never try to hide your criminal past. Not only is it wrong to try to cover up your past, but it could land you in trouble once discovered.
Fighting for Custody With a Skilled Child Custody Lawyer
If you have a criminal past, it’s best to let a knowledgeable child custody lawyer handle your case. An attorney can build your case and show the court why it would be in your child’s best interests to have you as a permanent fixture in their life.
The legal team at Johnson/Turner Legal has extensive experience handling cases for parents with criminal pasts throughout Minnesota. We can provide the clarity and structure you need for your child custody agreement. Contact our firm today to book a Quick Guidance Call with a child custody lawyer.