A DUI conviction can affect you in many ways, from your ability to commute to your job to keeping your job in the first place. If you are going through a divorce, and child custody is an issue, a current DUI can harm your chances of receiving sole or joint custody.
However, an old DUI conviction may not affect child custody, especially if the parent with the old DUI no longer consumes alcohol. A judge will take various factors into account when making their decision.
The Best Interests of the Child
Custody decisions are always supposed to consider the best interests of the child. A recent DUI conviction may provide evidence that the parent possesses poor judgement or behaves in a reckless matter. If the child was in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, the situation is even worse.
On the other hand, if the DUI conviction occurred years earlier, and the parent can show it was an outlier incident, and they have reformed their behavior, such a conviction may not affect the judge’s custody decision, per se.
However, if a former spouse is bringing up the DUI conviction merely to ensure the other parent cannot obtain sole or joint custody, it may show the judge the two parents cannot get along and work out differences. When one parent will go to extreme lengths to keep the other from enjoying joint custody, the judge notes that such battling is not in the best interests of the child.
DUI Considerations in Child Custody
Every case is different, and the judge will consider certain factors when making a decision regarding child custody and a parent’s DUI conviction. These may include:
- Blood alcohol level at time of arrest
- Prior criminal history, if any
- Whether the child was in the vehicle at the time
- Other aggravating factors, such as a death or serious injury resulting from the DUI
- Number of DUI arrests and convictions
- Loss of a driver’s license
If the DUI is a second or subsequent offense, the convicted parent may have to serve jail time. This may prove a significant factor in the judge’s decision, as a jail sentence obviously poses stability problems for the child.
The parent who is not in jail likely provides the more stable environment, at least for that time period. A jail sentence for a DUI is most likely to impact the judge’s decision to award sole custody to the non-incarcerated parent.
To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at (856) 512-1461 or contact us online. With two locations in Marlton and Somers Point, New Jersey, we serve clients in Burlington County, Camden County, Atlantic County, Salem County, and throughout South Jersey.