How May Your Arrest Affect A Pending Custody Battle?

Posted on: 24 September 2018

Going through a bad breakup with (or divorce from) your child's other parent can be stressful even under the best of circumstances. From the hassle and expense of setting up a second household to the uncertainty of when you'll get to see your child again, this stress can sometimes lead to poor decision-making. If you're arrested and charged with a crime while a custody case is pending, will this alone prevent you from gaining the custody you seek? What are your options if you find yourself in this situation? Read on to learn more about your rights and responsibilities after you're arrested mid-custody case.

Does an Arrest Eliminate Your Ability to Seek Custody?

Although the laws that govern custody determinations vary widely from state to state, there are no laws that expressly prohibit a person from being awarded joint or even full custody of a child because of an arrest, even if this arrest occurs while the custody case is pending. Instead, this arrest will become just one of the factors the court is to consider when determining what outcome will be in the best interest of the child or children.

This means that, as long as you can establish that whatever actions that led to your arrest did not and will not endanger your child, you might not be penalized for this arrest. You may need to address questions such as why you were arrested, whether your child was with you in the moments leading up to your arrest, and whether there are any other incidents in your background the court should be aware of.

What Should You Do to Preserve Your Rights?  

Your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination can apply equally in custody cases, which means a confession to certain actions or activities in your custody matter may be admissible in your criminal matter at a later date. You're always free to refuse to answer questions on the advice of your attorney, although the court is free to weigh this refusal-to-answer when deciding how to award custody. This may mean making the tough decision whether to plead guilty in your criminal case (and then be able to freely discuss it in family court) or to remain circumspect in family court and take your criminal case to trial.

It's also important to note that an arrest is much different than a conviction. Simply being arrested does not conclusively establish guilt, and if your charge is later dismissed (or you're acquitted), any evidence of your arrest is likely to carry very little weight with the family court. For more information, contact a law office like Maruca Law.