Effect of Felony Conviction on Divorce and Custody Cases

May 2, 2013 · by rosenblumlawfirm · in

Divorce is no fun under any circumstance and it is even worse when you’re involved in a divorce case. For those who find themselves in a divorce battle who have a past felony conviction, things go from bad to worse. A felony conviction makes a successful outcome in a divorce case or winning a custody fight extremely challenging under most circumstances.

The More Recent the Conviction the Bigger the Problem

A conviction in the very recent past will have much more impact than one that occurred decades ago, everything else being equal. But regardless of when the conviction occurred it can always impact how a court evaluates a divorce case. Some states have statutory presumptions that come into play against convicted felons in divorce matters.

Felony Conviction Equals Grounds for Divorce

In states that still have fault grounds for divorce (many states have moved to no-fault divorce grounds) a felony conviction is frequently one of the grounds provided by statute. This provides a significant advantage to the non-felon spouse.

Impact on Child Custody Cases

Child custody issues are the most problematic for those who have been convicted of a felony. The biggest issues that are likely to bother a judge would be convictions related to violence (aggravated assaults, attempted murder, assault on a spouse, etc.), those related to serious drug charges (for example, possession with intent to distribute), or convictions that indicate a repetitive substance abuse problem (for example, a second or third DWI, vehicular manslaughter, or repeated drug possession convictions). All of these kinds of issues give rise to the other party claiming that the child would be at risk if the felon were to receive primary custody.

Other kinds of felonies would be less likely to have such a disastrous effect on your chances of winning custody. Examples would include embezzlement, wire fraud, insider trading, and other similar non-violent white-collar crimes.

Your Chances Are Better If the Conviction Is Old

If your conviction is in the distant past it may not have much impact on your custody case. If the party seeking custody can show that he or she is a changed man since the conviction, that all possible steps towards rehabilitation have been taken, and that in all other respects the party is an excellent parent, then the judge may be inclined to look at the conviction as a past aberration that the person learned from and that will never again be repeated.

About the Author

Scott Morgan is the founder of the Morgan Law Firm and a board certified Texas family law attorney. His firm has offices in Houston, Austin and recently opened up its newest office to serve its Sugar Land divorce clients.