When a court rules on a child custody case, the best interest of the child comes first. Parents with a DWI may be concerned about how much that charge could affect their custody case. While a DWI charge can be viewed in a negative light during a child custody battle, there are a few factors that will determine whether it will ultimately affect the outcome of the decision. Retaining the services of an experienced child custody attorney can help you in minimizing the impact of a DWI charge on your child custody and child visitation rights.
Here are a Number of DWI Charge Factors that Can Impact Your Child Custody and Child Visitation
- Number of incidents
If you only have one DWI charge, it’s likely that you made a one-time mistake. A judge may not view this incident as an indication of a pattern of bad decision-making. The courts don’t necessarily care about past charges if they don’t provide evidence that it would affect your parental capability.
Having multiple DWI charges, on the other hand, may indicate a pattern of behavior. With multiple DWIs, courts may be concerned that you pose a safety risk for your child or that you exhibit signs of alcohol abuse which would pose a risk of exposing the child to instability.
- Aggravating factors of DWI
However, just because you only have one incident, doesn’t mean that the courts won’t find other issues with the charge. Aggravating factors in a DWI could also negatively impact your case for custody. Having a minor in your car at the time of the DWI is one factor that may present a particular cause for concern for the court.
- Recency of incidents
Depending on your situation, the recency of these DWI events can also factor into a judge’s decision. For example, if you had a few DWI charges, but they were from 10 years earlier, you could make a claim that you have reformed and that those charges are not a reflection on your current capacity to provide stability for your child.
- Commitment to Reform
In most cases making an effort to demonstrate rehabilitation will help reduce any potential concerns over your fitness to retain custody. Although the situation may not be ideal, your past does not have to determine your ability to parent your child.
In addition to the above, any conviction for an alcohol-related offense will likely result in probation. The length of probation can vary, but during this time of probation your ability to travel out-of-state will be limited. In addition, you will likely be required to do community service hours, attend alcohol classes, a MADD panel, and submit to monitored sobriety throughout your period of probation. The requirements of probation are costly and time consuming. The latter could impact the amount of time you have to spend with your children, as many of these requirements are often completed at night and on the weekends.
If you or a loved one have been involved with a DWI charge it is important to have your legal rights properly represented. You also will want to consult a child custody attorney to make sure that your child visitation and custody are not negatively impacted.
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