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How a DWI Affects a Child Custody Dispute

Child custody fights are difficult for all involved. However, to put yourself in the best position of winning, you should discuss anything in your history that your ex could use against you, including your criminal history.

As seasoned Jefferson City family law attorneys, we have worked with many clients who have a DWI conviction on their record. Although a drunk driving charge won’t prevent you from getting custody, it is something you should address in your court case. Below, the legal team at Call & Gentry Law Group explains how to handle a DWI conviction.

Why Criminal History Matters for Child Custody

When parents can’t agree to custody, Missouri judges will decide the issue based on the best interests of the child. This is a holistic analysis that looks at anything relevant. Missouri’s legislature has also spelled out certain factors for a judge to consider, including each parent’s mental and physical health. Judges also consider which parent can best provide a safe environment for the children.

A DWI can impact how a judge views you as a parent. For one thing, multiple DWIs could show a judge that you have a drinking problem. A judge is less likely to award an alcoholic custody. A DWI might also convince a judge that you exhibit poor judgment and could endanger your child. In fact, if you were arrested with a child in a car, then a judge will probably consider you very high risk.

Missouri’s law prohibits custody or unsupervised visitation to those convicted of certain crimes and provides a long list for crimes like rape or child trafficking. Just because DWI is not on the list does not mean it won’t come up in a child custody fight.

How to Address a Drunk Driving Arrest

You can increase the odds of getting custody if you are proactive in addressing your DWI arrest. For example, you might do any of the following:

  • Enter a 12-step program to show you are getting sober
  • Work with a counselor to address any chemical dependency
  • Avoid any other arrests for drunk driving
  • Keep a clean criminal record for the duration of your divorce
  • Volunteer with a church or civic institution to show you are a contributing member of society

Also avoid lying about the DWI or trying to minimize it (“I was wrongly convicted!”). Many judges view a failure to take responsibility negatively. Instead, face up to your past and work with us to show you are a different person now.

The more distant the arrest, the less it will factor into a judge’s decision. We have seen many people get custody or favorable visitation with their children despite a checkered criminal history.

Call Us to Get Started

No parent should enter a child custody fight alone. By working with one of our attorneys, we can take the sting out of any criminal conviction, for DWI or another crime. The more time we have, the better we can serve your interests. To speak with a lawyer, call us today for a consultation.