How a Criminal Conviction Affects Child Custody in Illinois

You already know some of the ways that a criminal conviction will affect your life, including fines, jail time, probation, and other penalties. However, there are other significant areas of your life that will be impacted by your conviction. For example, an arrest or conviction may affect your parental rights in proceedings involving your children. Criminal activity could lead to challenges with custody and visitation, officially called “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” under Illinois law. However, you still have rights in a criminal case and will get your day in court. There are strategies for fighting most types of criminal charges, so discuss your circumstances with an Illinois criminal defense and child custody attorney. You should also review the following summary of how criminal activity can affect your rights as a parent.

Why Criminal Activity Matters

By law, the best interests of the child are the most crucial consideration when a court makes a decision regarding custody and visitation. In many cases, a judge will order parents to equally share in making important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. Illinois courts also recognize that children benefit from having a solid relationship with both parents, so visitation is often a shared responsibility.

However, a criminal arrest or conviction may have an effect on the child’s best interests. Some crimes are specifically mentioned in the list of 15 factors, but a judge can also consider any other relevant issues. You could lose your right to custody or may be banned from exercising visitation rights.

Your Prior Criminal History

The amount of weight a court will give to your past criminal history depends on your unique circumstances. Some factors include:

  • The nature of the crime, such as whether it involved a sex offense or violent conduct;
  • How old you were when convicted;
  • Whether the arrest led to official charges;
  • Whether the case was dismissed before trial or led to an acquittal;
  • How long ago you were convicted;
  • Whether alcohol and/or drugs were involved;
  • The age of the victim, for a crime against individuals;
  • Your relationship to the victim;
  • The details of the sentence issued by the court; and,
  • Many other factors.

Criminal Activity During Child Custody Proceedings

Your situation is more serious if you are arrested or convicted during a currently pending child custody or visitation case. These issues can arise through a divorce case or in connection with paternity, but the child’s best interests standard still applies. A years-old conviction may have less of an impact on your current abilities as a parent, but a recent criminal case could lead to a harsh result.

A Criminal Defense and Child Custody Lawyer Will Help Protect Your Parental Rights

If you were arrested for a crime, the best strategy to safeguard your parental rights is to present a solid defense to the charges. An experienced attorney can help, so please contact Glasgow & Olsson to schedule a consultation regarding your options. You can reach our firm by calling 847-577-8700 or visiting us online. We assist clients in Cook, Lake, DuPage, McHenry, and Kane Counties from our centrally located office in Schaumburg, IL.

(image courtesy of Ilya Yakover)

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