In child custody cases, a criminal conviction of a parent can cause the loss of custody and parenting time, since these rights are always based on the best interest of the child.
The Impact of Criminal Convictions
Child custody cases can become quite contentious, especially when parents are fighting about custody and parenting time. In Indiana, to restrict parenting time rights, the Court must find that parenting time might endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.
While some allegations may have minor consequences, others can impact child custody and parenting time determinations. The judge will consider the nature of the offense and what impact, if any, it has on the best interest of the child. If the Court finds that parenting time might endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development, they can restrict a parents parenting time. Some examples of restrictions include parenting time being supervised by a court appointed person or parenting time occurring at a certain location.
A judge is more likely to allow a criminal offender to play a role in his/her child’s life if the crime committed does not prove to endanger the child. The date of conviction and the punishment for the crime can also impact the judge’s decision. For instance, if the crime happened 10 years ago and the offender has no further arrests or convictions, it may have less impact on a Court’s decision. A family law attorney can help advocate for as much unrestricted parenting time as possible.
Criminal Charges vs Criminal Convictions
In legal terms, there is a big difference between being charged with a crime and being convicted of a crime. According to the law, a criminal charge in itself is not proof that a person actually committed a crime until they have been proven guilty. A criminal conviction means a person has pleaded guilty or been found guilty of a crime.
If a parent is facing a criminal charge at the time of a child custody case but has not yet been convicted of the crime, a family law attorney may argue that the charge should not impact their parenting time rights. However, the nature of the crime and relevance to the child’s protection and welfare may still have an impact on the judge’s decision. Depending on the nature of the accusations, the Court may elect to enter a temporary parenting time order with certain restrictions in place until the criminal case is resolved.
Modifying Parenting Time Rights
In Indiana, the court can modify parenting time rights, if the modification is in the best interest of the child. However, the court may not simply modify these rights without good reason. In most cases, modification of parenting time rights is done to protect the child from physical and/or mental harm by a parent.
If one parent seeks to modify the other parent’s parenting time and visitation rights, an Indiana family law attorney can help with providing a justified reason for the modification to the court. If the nature of a parent’s criminal conviction poses risks to a child’s physical and/or mental well-being, the court is likely to grant the modification.