If you’re a parent who has been convicted of a crime, one of the most significant - and unintended - consequences of your conviction could be the potential loss of custody of your children. Child custody cases depend on a lot of factors, and we’re here to boil it down to the top 3 things you should know about how criminal convictions affect your child custody rights:
1. The Best Interest of the Child
Generally, the most important factor that courts use to decide child custody cases is determining what the best interest of the child is. In deciding what the child’s best interest is, Arizona family courts will consider the wishes of the child, the interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent, the mental and physical health of both the child and the parent, and previous criminal convictions, among other factors.
2. The Nature of the Crime is Important
How much weight a family court judge will give to your criminal history in determining the best interest of the child depends on the nature of your crimes. Arizona law specifically lists the false reporting of child abuse or neglect, domestic abuse, and child abuse violations as relevant factors in determining custody. Depending on the nature and severity of your crime, the judge could limit your custody rights or terminate them altogether.
3. Programs and Resources to Maintain Custody
There are programs and resources available to help increase your chances of maintaining custody of your children. Estelle Streich was able to continue to see her daughter while she was in prison for three years through the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars Program. Convicted for trafficking stolen property, Streich was able to maintain her relationship with her daughter.
“Although we only spent two hours when she came with the Girl Scout program, it was enough to keep a bond between us,” Streich told ABC15 News.
An experienced Phoenix family law attorney can also help you navigate the child custody process and assist you in providing your best case to a family court judge.
For more information on child custody issues, see our Related Resources section.
- Find a Phoenix Family Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Terminating Parental Rights (FindLaw)
- Child Abuse Can Lead to Termination of Parental Rights (The Phoenix Family Law News Blog)