Being convicted of a crime could result in jail time, probation, or other negative consequences. In some cases, it could jeopardize a parent’s right to have a relationship with their son or daughter. However, being convicted of a crime doesn’t necessarily mean that a parent will lose custody or visitation rights to a child.
The Best Interests of the Child Are Paramount
Research has shown that children who have both parents in their lives tend to turn out healthier and more stable than those who don’t. Therefore, if a parent is not abusive toward the child and does not engage in criminal behavior around the child, it may be beneficial to spend time together.
It is important to mention that visitation or other contact does not necessarily occur in a physical setting. In some cases, contact may take place over the phone or through digital communications. Visitations may also be supervised by a representative of the court.
Context Is Important
A criminal defense lawyer may work to portray a parent as someone who simply made a mistake when engaging in criminal activity. A defense lawyer might work to show that a parent was unaware of the full impact of their behavior, was involved in criminal activities to provide for their family, or was acting in self-defense when engaging in a physical altercation.
If a parent doesn’t have a prior criminal record, it may be hard to justify keeping that person away from a child. However, many states do require that those convicted of murder or other violent crimes are kept away from their children regardless of their previous record. Of course, a parent who is convicted of a violent crime who shows remorse and a genuine attempt to change may regain rights to a child over time.
The Feelings of the Other Parent Generally Don’t Matter
Attorneys, like child custody attorneys Phoenix AZ relies on, might note that the other parent doesn’t feel comfortable raising his or her daughter alongside a criminal. However, the feelings of the other parent don’t generally matter when it comes to granting visitation rights, unless the parent with a criminal record poses a threat in some way.
Otherwise, the court will direct the child’s parents to work together to fulfill the terms of a visitation order. If necessary, a child may be picked up and dropped off by a representative of the court or by a police officer if the parents truly cannot stand to see or be around each other for even a few moments. Those who defy a visitation order out of spite or for any other reason may face jail time or other penalties.
At best, a criminal conviction is something that a parent likely won’t look forward to explaining to his or her child. At worst, it may be the reason why a parent isn’t able to see or talk with a son or daughter at all. Those who are charged with a crime may benefit from talking with an attorney to create a defense to the charge and potentially retain parental rights.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into criminal convictions and parental visitation rights.