If I want to get full custody of my daughter when she is born, will her father’s criminal record looked at when deciding how to grant custody?

Asked on January 23, 2013 under Family Law, New York


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The court will look to a variety of factors to decide custody arrangements for a child. No set factor will control, but the criminal history of the parents is something that the courts can consider.   How much weight they will give it will depend on the nature of the allegations and how long ago it was.  If the charge was for smoking pot when they were in high school ten years ago, then the court probably will not give it much thought.  If the prior criminal history involves assaultive offenses or offenses against children, then it will have a greater affect on the judge.  If he has a prior for drug offenses and is still going through treatment, the court will want to be sure that the treatment programs are working before awarding his custody.

In addition to the criminal history, the court will also look at the parenting abilities of each parent, the available resources, the needs of the child, the collateral support each parent has (i.e. family members or friends can help).  The courts like to hear not only why the other parent is not the best choice, but also why you are the better choice.  Before your daughter is born, make sure that you are ready (at least as much as any new parent can be), to take care of her.  Make sure she has a bed, clean clothes, and plenty of formula.  The idea is to show you have taken this responsibility seriously.  Absent some major bad conduct on your part, you should be able to seek custody of your little girl.  Good luck!

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