Could a DUI affect my child custody arrangement?

If you are going through a child custody dispute as well as a charge of driving under the influence (DUI), you no doubt feel incredible stress. You worry about your future and those of your children. In particular, you worry whether the charges against you could affect the time sharing schedule you receive.

How the court determines time sharing schedules

Though the Florida court system refers to child custody as “time sharing,” the concepts are the same. They refer to the legal obligations and living arrangements that unmarried parents have with their child. If unmarried parents cannot reach a compromise regarding time sharing, then a family court judge will issue a decision.

The court takes many factors into consideration when determining a time-sharing schedule, including:

  • The ability of each parent to care for the child
  • The relationship of the child to each parent
  • The location of each parent’s home
  • The location of the child’s school, church and other community activities
  • The presence of abuse, neglect, substance abuse or mental health issues.

When making a decision, the court uses the standard of the child’s best interests.

How a DUI can affect time sharing

Unfortunately, the court sometimes does take into account the presence of criminal charges against a parent. A DUI charge or conviction can have a negative impact on your time sharing arrangement.

A judge may feel that your DUI indicates that you might endanger the children by driving under the influence. The judge might believe that it indicates poor judgement on your part. Either way, you should go into your custody dispute aware that a DUI on your record is a strike against your parenting time rights.

What you can do

One of the best ways to protect your right to spend time with your children is to work with an attorney to resolve your DUI case. This may involve getting your charges dismissed, reduced or expunged. It could also mean agreeing to a plea bargain or proceeding to trial. Your attorney can also argue on your behalf in court to help you attain as much time with your kids as possible.