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How a DUI Affects Your Child Custody Status

DUIEvery adult makes mistakes at some point in their life. Unfortunately, some of these mistakes can lead to consequences that affect every single part of their life. Many people, for instance, don’t understand the full repercussions of a DUI conviction. These convictions can lead to fines, mandatory DUI classes, installation of ignition interlock devices and even jail time. These consequences, however, pale in comparison to those that a parent facing child custodial issues could experience.

Will a DUI Affect my Child Custody Case?

Some people might believe that a DUI is a minor crime which won’t really have an effect in a child custody hearing. Unfortunately, most of these parents find out the hard way that courts look at DUI convictions the same way that potential employers do: as a sign of immaturity and unreliability.

A person shouldn’t think that a DUI will affect their child custody case forever. An individual who was convicted of DUI 10 years ago, for instance, and hasn’t been charged with anything since will likely not run into difficulties due to the charge. A newer charge, however, will leave a judge wondering if a person has really learned from their mistake. Granting sole or even joint custody in these cases is often more of a risk than a judge will want to take.  A reputable family lawyer is a vital part of a DUI-related custody process.

DUI Factors That Could Prevent Child Custody

As mentioned above, the time that has passed since a person’s DUI conviction will play a large role in whether or not the charge affects custodial rights. There are, however, several other factors to consider. Repeated DUI offenses, for instance, can be especially detrimental. The consequences without child custody being an issue are already bad enough. In Gainesville, Florida, for instance, a second and third DUI can result in a year long incarceration term, and even worse, a third DUI conviction can be charged as a felony. In that situation, it’s best to hire a Gainesville DUI attorney who is a board certified DUI defense expert, maximizing one’s chances of getting a fair judgment for their mistakes.

The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles website lists the range of consequences for drunk driving, and they go from mild to severe in nature.  And in the case of multiple DUIs, the legal consequences are of course, more harsh, and can cause loss of custody for the parent that is found guilty. Several DUIs shows a reckless disregard of the law and one’s own responsibilities. There aren’t many instances in family law where judges will look kindly upon this. Additionally, a judge may only have to consider the fact that a person has lost their license, and thus has no way to transport a child, to decide that they shouldn’t receive custodial rights.

Fighting for Custody

If “Parent A” is contesting the custody rights of “Parent B” with the belief that a DUI conviction shows that Parent B isn’t capable of custodial rights, it’s important for Parent B to get a child custody attorney. Nipping this in the bud quickly, however, is a much better decision. Regardless of whether it’s their first or fifth DUI, a parent would really benefit from hiring a DUI attorney soon after their arrest.

A DUI attorney provides numerous benefits in any situation. Even those without children can benefit through the possibility of not losing their license or facing serious fines. Parents, however, benefit even more. If an attorney can get the judge to drop the charge of DUI or get their client found not guilty, it’ll be like the incident never happened. Fortunately, if it legally never happened, then it cannot be used against someone in a child custody case.

There’s no doubt that the repercussions of a DUI, especially for those engaged in custody battles, can be some of the most disastrous a person will ever face. This makes it imperative to fight as hard as possible to avoid a conviction. As already mentioned, an attorney may be able to convince a judge that a DUI will have no bearing on a person’s parenting ability, but having an attorney help with a DUI charge in the first place could completely negate the need for legal help in a custodial matter.

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