By Matt Allen
But depending on the circumstances, your background and your behavior, a DUI is not necessarily a deal breaker.
In general, any type of conduct such as being arrested for driving under the influence is relevant to a custody fight since the court is going to look at the moral fitness of the parents.
Your spouse will likely attempt to make a DUI an issue in your case, but the longer in the past it is the less of an impact it will have, according to Cordell & Cordell divorce lawyer Erin Brockhoff.
“If it is your only offense, you have complied with the terms of any sentence, and have not had any subsequent issues with drugs or alcohol, it is unlikely that a judge would hold it against you,” she said.
Brockhoff said it would also be helpful to your case if you can show that you attend some alcohol counseling or treatment after the offense.
A DUI may carry greater weight depending on the type of custody you are looking for.
Cordell & Cordell attorney Richard Coffee said parents need to separate child custody determinations into two issues: the decision-making authority (legal custody) and the amount of time each parent spends with the child (physical custody).
Regarding legal custody, Coffee said it is doubtful that a past DUI conviction will greatly affect a parent’s decision-making responsibilities affecting the children, including religious education, choice of schools, tutoring, cultural education, extracurricular activities, etc.
But a DUI conviction may present problems when fighting for parenting time if the opposing party argues your DUI shows your priority of drinking or socializing over your children, according to Coffee. The opposing party would also likely bring concerns about you driving with the children.
Coffee said the issues as to physical child custody agreements include the home environments each parent will provide, the schedules of the parents and the children with regard to assuring the children are properly supervised and prepared for school, and the abilities of each parent to provide the appropriate parenting during their period of physical custody.
As noted, a DUI history may have some bearing on these issues.
Cordell & Cordell fights for fathers rights in child custody cases. To schedule an appointment with an attorney, please contact the Cordell & Cordell office nearest you.