How a Criminal Record Affects Child Custody in Pennsylvania

Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC. – Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers

How a Criminal Record Affects Your Child Custody Case in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, a criminal record can contain arrests, information collected by criminal justice agencies, and more.While most information in a criminal record is not an automatic bar to child custody, certain convictions require additional “threat to the child” analysis by the Court.  

Does a Criminal Record Affect Child Custody?

The short answer is yes, a criminal record can affect a child custody case in PA. Pennsylvania law requires the court to conduct a child threat analysis if a party or any member of that party’s household has been convicted or pled guilty to a variety of criminal offences, anywhere.

Convictions That May Affect Child Custody

In general, offenses related to violence and sexual nature will trigger the analysis but a DUI can also affect a custody case.  An experienced child custody lawyer will help you understand your rights and guide you through the complicated issues related to convictions. 

Felony vs. Misdemeanor Convictions

As a general rule, a misdemeanor is a lesser degree of infraction than a felony. That said, the Court will still view the nature of the act in determining the best interest and threat of harm to the child. 

Determining You Aren’t a Threat to Your Child

Through a series of evaluations, the Court will consider all the evidence presented to determine if it believes there is a threat of harm to the child. It is a case-by-case analysis, and the more objective evidence and testimony that can be presented that the offender has changed their life and wants to have a solid and safe relationship with the child, the better their chances become.

See a Counselor

Taking a proactive approach and seeking help before a Court orders such is generally viewed positively by the Court. It provides evidence that you take this matter and your relationship with the child seriously and have the child’s best interest in mind. The same holds true if the offender is a member of the household.        

Evaluating Your Case

Each case is unique. Being able to objectively explain and offer evidence of your goals and how they relate to the best interest of your child is imperative. An experienced child custody attorney can help you evaluate the specific facts of your case and advise you on the options available.

A New Partner’s Criminal History

At any time before or after a child custody order, the Court may review any situation where a threat of harm to a child is a consideration. The Court’s focus is to act in the best interest of the child, first and foremost. If a new partner has a criminal history, the court will thoroughly  the matter and make its determination based on the facts and evidence presented.

Final Thoughts on Criminal Records & Child Custody

In general, a parent or a household member with a criminal record does not automatically eliminate a parent from being awarded custody, but can make it harder. Having the best advocate who explains the process, your rights and helps you strategize for the best

results, as well as someone who truly cares about you and your family, isextremely important. Put our decades of combined experience to work for you!

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