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How Can Prior Criminal Convictions Affect Your Child Custody Case?

January 10, 2020

If you are going through a divorce, and you have a child, one of your primary concerns will be child custody. If you are unable to reach a custody agreement with your former spouse, you will need to go through the court system for the matter to be decided.

Types of custody arrangements

There are four types of custody arrangements that may be enforced by court order:

Sole custody
With sole custody, the child lives with one parent. The parent with whom the child lives will be responsible for their care and will make all major decisions about their upbringing.

Shared custody
In a shared custody arrangement, the child will live with both parents at different times. Therefore, both parents will be responsible for the care of the child.

Joint legal custody
If parents have joint legal custody, a child may live with only one of them; however, they’ll both make decisions with respect to major aspects of the child’s life such as religion, health care and education.

Split custody
Split custody applies when there are two or more children, and each parent has custody of at least one child.

Factors that determine child custody

The court will always act in the best interest of the child in custody cases. To determine the child’s best interest, the judge will evaluate the relationship between each parent and the child. They will also consider the parents’ involvement in the child’s development before the divorce, as well as the parents’ ability and willingness to provide care and support.

If your child is 12 years or older, their wishes may carry significant weight in the judge’s decision. Finally, the judge will consider each parent’s character. One way to evaluate your character is by conducting background checks, which will include a search for criminal records.

What happens if you have a criminal record?

The impact of a criminal record on a child’s case will depend on the crime for which you were convicted. If you were convicted for domestic abuse or intimidation, for instance, whether the child was involved in the matter or not, it may work against you in the case. The judge may see your conviction as a reflection of your parenting abilities. A conviction for domestic violence may also raise questions about the safety of the other parent should there be disagreements regarding the care of the child.

A conviction on its own is unlikely to cause you to lose custody unless you were convicted of a sexual offence or a crime against your child. Usually, a conviction will simply add to any other discrediting factors against you.

If you want to counter the effects of a criminal record, you may apply for a pardon. If you are granted a pardon, also known as a record suspension, it will indicate that you have made an effort to rehabilitate and become a law-abiding citizen. A record suspension will increase the chances of a favourable outcome in your case.

Are you searching for a Toronto child custody lawyer?

If you have a criminal record and need a Toronto child custody lawyer, contact us at Baker and Baker Family Law. At Baker and Baker Family Law, our lawyers have over 90 years of combined experience handling complex family matters, including child custody disputes. And if you are fighting to retain custody of your child, we will help you to explore all your legal options.

So, what are you waiting for? Give us a call today to schedule a legal consultation with one of our Toronto child custody lawyers.

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