Can You Get Denied Child Visitation in Utah Because of a Criminal Record?

If you are involved in a custody battle, one potential outcome of the case could be that your parental rights are limited to visitation.  Instead of having shared physical custody, you may be limited to spending a few hours with your kids on weekends or seeing them under supervised conditions.  If courts think you are a risk to your children, you could have your custody rights reduced to visitation or stripped away entirely.  Having a criminal record can be a serious problem that could lead to these issues, but simply having a criminal record is not always enough to lose custody rights or visitation. A Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer at Overson & Bugden discusses how a criminal record might affect your visitation rights and your child custody case.

Can a Criminal Record Affect Child Custody in Utah?

Judges always consider the best interests of the children first when deciding child custody cases in Utah.  Their decisions are based on a number of factors, including which parent has the free time to be an adequate parent, how much money each parent can afford to spend in support, whether the parents can attend to the children’s developmental and emotional needs, and whether the parent is going to be a risk or a danger to the child.  Some criminal records are going to be serious strikes against that parent, such as a history of child abuse or domestic violence that show the parent is a literal danger to the children and the family.

Aside from this kind of a record, courts are going to be wary about giving custody to parents with a record of other violent crimes or crimes that could demonstrate a potential risk to those around them.  If you have a criminal record involving assault charges, manslaughter charges, or other charges that indicate violent tendencies, courts may strip you of your custody rights entirely.  A history of drug crimes, drug use, and addiction might also hurt your chances of getting custody of your children because this kind of a record could mean there are drugs in the house, your drug use might prevent you from being able to parent adequately, or you could be involved with dangerous people that put your family’s safety at risk.

All in all, having a criminal record should not be automatically disqualifying.  In many cases, courts compare the parents to each other to decide which parent is the fittest to take primary custody.  That means that if both parents have a rap sheet, they could both be under scrutiny from the courts.  In cases with an extreme criminal record on both sides, the courts might strip parents of custody rights entirely, opting to put the kids in foster care instead.  However, a criminal record alone without any actual indication of danger to the children should not be enough to result in either parent having their custody rights stripped away, let alone both parents.  Talk to a lawyer for help understanding the potential outcomes in your case.

Can You Get Visitation with a Criminal Record in Utah?

Courts generally prefer to have both parents involved in the children’s lives.  This means that courts usually prefer to give parents shared custody or joint custody and allow both of them to have parenting time in their own homes.  This could be a 50/50 time split or it could involve an arrangement where the parents split time on weekends and holidays, or during summer vacation.  Utah law sets minimum visitation times so that parents get a guaranteed amount of time to spend with their children, usually allowing the noncustodial parent to get one weeknight per week, alternating weekends, some holidays, and other important days.  In many cases, visitation schedules like this are used because the court finds that the noncustodial parent is not fit to be a full-time parent, for whatever reason.  However, courts can go a step further and strip the parent of visitation entirely.

A serious criminal record or recent convictions could be enough to convince a jury to take that extra step and block custody and access entirely.  If this happens, courts may still allow for supervised visitation or instances where you can spend a few hours with the children under controlled circumstances, but there is no guarantee.

In some cases, your visitation and physical custody rights might be taken away, but your legal custody rights might be left intact.  This could mean that you still have the right to make decisions concerning your child’s healthcare, religion, education, and other broad areas of concern in the child’s life, even if you do not have the right to see your children or have them stay with you.  However, these rights could also be stripped away if you are in jail or your criminal record is serious enough to show that you are not fit to parent in this respect either.

Call Our Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation

One of the best ways to avoid having a criminal record affect your custody case is to avoid the record in the first place.  Our lawyers can help you fight the charges against you and work to appeal convictions and expunge old convictions.  Our Utah child custody lawyers can also help fight your custody case and work to help you keep custody of your children.  For a free legal consultation on your criminal case, call our Utah criminal defense attorneys today to learn more about what the lawyers at Overson Law can do to help with your criminal case and your child custody issues.  Our phone number is (801) 758-2287.