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Can Having a DWI/DUI Affect My Child Custody During a Divorce?

DUIs and DWIs have a nasty habit of returning to haunt you, sometimes years after they happened. DUIs and DWIs might affect the outcome of a child custody hearing during a divorce.

DUI or DWI convictions might affect physical custody arrangements, but they typically do not impact legal custody. Courts tend to follow the golden rule of the children’s best interest during custody battles. If a history of DUIs interferes with the children’s best interests, your custody might be jeopardized. Spouses might use previous DUIs to support allegations of alcohol dependency or claims that you are an unfit parent. While this is problematic, it can be overcome with evidence that establishes your dedication and love for your children. If you currently face DUI or DWI charges, an attorney can help you fight them so they do not pose a problem later.

Do not let a DWI or DUI create problems for your future. Call our Philadelphia DUI defense attorneys for a free case assessment and discuss how to fight your charges. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.

How a DUI or DWI Conviction Might Affect Child Custody Arrangements During a Divorce

DUIs and DWIs might pose a problem regarding physical custody, but they likely will not affect legal custody. Legal custody is your legal ability to make decisions about your children and their upbringing. Your right to decide about your children’s education, medical treatment, and religious instruction is considered part of legal custody. Physical custody refers to where your kids live.

Losing Custody Because of DUIs or DWIs

Legal custody is an incredibly important right that can be stripped away over a DUI or DWI. A history of DUIs or DWIs might make a judge in a custody hearing perceive you as a dangerous and unfit parent. If your child was in the car with you during the DUI or DWI, that’s even worse. Custody hearings are primarily concerned with where a child lives. Depending on the situation, a DUI or DWI could cost you partial or full physical custody. In some cases, legal custody might be in jeopardy because of DUIs and DWIs, and you would no longer have the right to make decisions regarding your child’s life.

Depending on your state, DUIs and DWIs might not be eligible for expungement, and they will remain on your record forever. The best way to prevent a DUI or DWI from coming up during a divorce and custody hearing is to fight the DUI and hopefully avoid a conviction. Call our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers for help with your case now.

When DUI/DWIs Become an Issue in Custody Cases

When a court determines child custody arrangements as part of a divorce, a golden rule must always be followed: the court will make decisions based on whatever is in the child’s best interest. Completely removing one parent from a child’s life by striping legal custody is rarely in the child’s best interest unless that parent poses a serious risk or places the child’s safety in danger. A DUI or DWI on your record can cause you to lose legal custody in certain rare circumstances. More likely, a court might be skeptical of granting physical custody to someone with a history of DUIs or DWIs.

DUIs and DWIs become an issue at custody hearings when they start interfering with the children’s best interests. For example, if a parent has a history of DUIs and DWIs, the court might not trust them to drive with the kids in the car, and that parent might lose physical custody. Physical custody could also be reduced to supervised visitation, where the court can ensure the parent will not drive the kids anywhere. Our Bucks County criminal defense attorneys can help you challenge DUI charges before they become an issue at custody hearings.

A DUI or DWI can be a much larger problem if the charges signify something more serious, like a serious alcohol dependency problem. If such a case, a court might deem you too irresponsible or dangerous to retain custody of your children. Parents addicted to alcohol or other substances risk losing custody of their kids.

Can My Spouse Use My DUI/DWI Convictions Against Me During Custody Hearings?

Divorce and custody hearings are known to be contentious. Ideally, ex-spouses can agree on child custody arrangements amicably and in a way that benefits the child. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and resentful spouses might make wild accusations in an attempt to retain full custody of the children and spite their ex-partner.

If you have DUIs or DWIs on your record, your spouse could accuse you of being an unfit parent, and they might try to use the DUIs or DWIs as evidence. Whether or not your spouse’s accusations hold any water depends on numerous other factors. Even having one DUI or DWI might be enough ammo for your ex-partner to argue that you have a dangerous alcohol dependency problem that puts your kids in danger. Multiple DUIs, especially relatively recent ones, pose an even bigger threat.

Even if you have several DUI convictions, we know they do not concretely establish anything regarding your abilities as a parent. Courts are not always so understanding about these things, and your history of DWIs or DUIs could cost you physical custody. Contact an attorney about your past DUIs. Our Delaware County criminal defense attorneys can help you get them expunged if they are eligible for expungement in your state.

How to Prevent a DUI/DWI from Interfering with Child Custody During Divorce Proceedings

Perhaps the best method of handling DUIs or DWIs in a custody hearing is to avoid being convicted of the charges in the first place. DUI and DWI charges cannot be used to terminate your custodial rights over your children if you were never convicted. Our Philadelphia defense attorney for multiple DUIs know how to handle these cases and will work to help you avoid conviction.

As with any criminal case, the prosecutors need evidence to support a DUI or DWI conviction. Arguably the most significant piece of evidence in any DWI or DUI case is the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The police must follow strict procedures when obtaining this evidence to avoid violating your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement forced you to submit to chemical testing or did not have enough probable cause to arrest you before testing you, your BAC should be suppressed and kept out of the courtroom.

The best way to fight your DUI or DWI charges depends on the unique circumstances of your case. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after being arrested to begin mounting your defense.

Call Our DUI Defense Attorneys for Help

If you are facing upcoming divorce proceedings and believe your past DUIs or DWIs might come back to haunt you, our Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can help you. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case review.