Will a DUI affect my chances for custody of my children?

Legal Tips and Resources

In a perfect world, deciding the custody arrangements of children during a divorce is smooth and amicable with no need for lawyers or judges. In fact, many couples try to compromise and reach an agreement without involving lawyers. Unfortunately, that is not always the case for many married couples who have made the choice to split up. In the event that no agreement can be reached this way, it is necessary to seek the help of an experienced attorney. An attorney can be quite helpful in handling all communication with your former spouse and his or her attorney in the event that the relationship is strained.  It is important that you are honest with your attorney especially when it comes to your legal history such as being arrested or convicted for a DUI. The better prepared your side is in the divorce and custody battle, the better your chances of the judge having sympathy for your mistake.

Considerations the court makes in deciding child custody:

Ultimately, in custody cases, the judge must look out for the best interest of the child. Although being accused or convicted of a DUI does not necessarily mean you are a bad parent, it certainly should not erase all that you do for your children. In a perfect world the judge would not consider a poor decision such as getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol as a reflection of how you parent, but your ex-spouse may bring it to the court’s attention. If that should happen, any decent attorney will bring the focus back to your history of parenting in general, outside of the DUI. Your attorney’s goal is to prove to the judge that you are the best parent to fulfil your child’s physical and emotional needs. Ultimately, the judge’s job is to determine what is best for the child and find a custody arrangement where the child has the least amount of disruption in his or her life. The judge will consider which parent was the primary caretaker during the marriage, the age of the child or children (in some cases, children may be able to choose where he or she lives) and consistency for the child in day to day activities (the judge may find it best for the child to remain close to school, friends and extracurricular activities). Of course, each judge is different and each state has its own set of laws with respect to custody arrangements, a family law attorney can clarify any confusion or concern.

Impact of a DUI conviction:

A DUI conviction may result in a variety of different degrees of punishment depending on the state you live in, your legal history (especially any prior DUI arrests) and the severity of the situation. You may be put on probation, be fined, see jail time, required to complete community service, required to attend drunk driving prevention classes and lose your license. If it is your first defense, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor and the punishment is light compared to someone who has a prior DUI. A DUI should not have an impact on family court cases such as custody of your children. Should you have further questions, it is advised that you seek guidance from a DUI lawyer Fairfax, VA trusts.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at Dave Albo – Attorney for their insight into DUI charges and criminal defense.