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When can a criminal record affect someone’s parental rights?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Family Law |

Those facing family law challenges often worry about their parental rights. The more heated disputes between spouses become, the greater the possibility that one adult might try to diminish the parental rights of the other.

Parents who have criminal records sometimes make the mistake of giving up their parenting time or decision-making authority because they assume a judge would rule against them family court. However, Texas family law judges don’t use such a black-and-white approach to addressing family law conflicts.

Whenever parents disagree about how they divide parenting time and authority with one another, judges may have to intervene. In such cases, the main consideration should always be the best interest of the children. When can a prior criminal record make a judge worry about a parent’s involvement with their children?

When the record is a serious felony offense

Someone who has previously served a sentence for a violent felony or pleaded guilty as a means of avoiding incarceration could be at risk of the courts limiting their parenting time in a family law case. Serious, violent felonies are among the offenses that the state can sometimes use to justify terminating a parent’s rights. If the offense is theoretically severe enough to lead to the state removing the children from a parent’s care, then it may also be serious enough to influence how a family law judge divides parental rights and responsibilities in a contested custody case.

When the offense involved the children

There are numerous criminal offenses that could influence a family law judge’s decision-making process that are not necessarily violent felonies. Domestic violence allegations that involved the children as victims or witnesses could potentially influence custody determinations. So could any other criminal charge against a parent where the child was either a victim or an unwilling accomplice involved in the criminal activity by the adults. Drug charges and impaired driving charges that occurred while there were children in the vehicle could potentially influence custody positions.

With all of this said, the vast majority of criminal infractions in Texas are likely to play a minimal role in any custody proceedings. Texas family law judges rarely limit parenting rights over minor offenses and old infractions that did not involve a child.

Someone who has already served their sentence and who wants to maintain their relationship with their children can still request both parenting time and decision-making authority in the Texas family courts. Learning more about what influences custody determinations in Texas can be beneficial for anxious parents.