Could Criminal Charges Affect My Divorce Proceedings?

divorce proceedings

You’re going through a divorce, and then you’re arrested for and charged with a crime. Divorce proceedings can be stressful enough without the additional anxiety that results from criminal charges. You’re no doubt wondering if your criminal charges will affect your divorce and what you can do to minimize the impact of those charges.

There might be two portions of your divorce proceedings that are impacted by your criminal charges. If you have criminal charges, they could impact property division and child custody.

Property Division

Property division is often not affected by criminal charges unless real or personal property was acquired by the criminal conduct of one of the parties. A past criminal conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol, for example, will likely not have a significant impact on present-day divorce proceedings. In community property states, spouses will not be liable for the debts of a spouse that were gained through fraud or other criminal behavior.

However, if the criminal charges are for spousal abuse and it can be shown that the abuse caused a reduction in the abused party’s income or other financial losses, the court may take that into consideration. Charges of abuse with this type of effect on the finances of the parties may prompt a judge to assign a larger share of the assets to the abused party if they believe such distribution would be equitable.

Child Custody

When judges and courts analyze information during a divorce proceeding where children are involved, they use the best interests of the child standard. The best interests of the child standard will govern any decision the court makes regarding child custody. If you and your spouse are seeking joint custody, a prior criminal conviction can impair your ability to acquire equal custody rights.

Being arrested and charged with a crime while attempting to obtain custody of your children or other privileges during a divorce can reduce the court’s confidence in your ability to care for the child. The best interests of the child standard is an objective standard, and parents are analyzed by the court to determine where and with whom the child will thrive, receive support, and be able to develop into a mature adult.

Criminal charges may suggest to the court that a parent who is arrested is irresponsible and has no respect for the rule of law. Judges may also consider past criminal convictions when making determinations about the child’s situation.

Judges often consider the type of criminal offense the party committed, the date of the offense, any rehabilitation the party has undergone, and the identity of the victim.

Courts consider the emotional and moral fitness of each parent. Whether a parent has ever abused a child or any other person is relevant to child custody decisions. If a parent was arrested for and charged with assault and battery, this would influence the court’s decision when considering child custody options and the best interests of the child.

The individuals who live with a parent may also be considered when the court analyzes child custody options. If a dangerous and unstable criminal resides with one parent, this will affect the court’s decision. Child custody determinations are made to benefit the child and provide him or her with stable, safe, and supportive living conditions until adulthood.

Contact Us for Help

Contact Pincus Goodman P.C. to learn how we can help you. Our firm specializes in both criminal defense and family law matters. Call our office today at (757) 301-9634 to schedule a confidential consultation during which we can discuss the facts of your case. We offer excellent legal representation, and we have years of experience representing clients in Virginia. Let us help you, too.


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