How Does a Parent’s Criminal Record Impact Parental Responsibilities?
Parents are not perfect. Many parents have made mistakes in their past that they regret, but this does not necessarily make them any less qualified to care for their children. On the other hand, some parents have shown a pattern of criminal behavior that does make it more likely for child abuse or neglect to take place.
Many divorcing and unmarried parents have questions about how a parent’s criminal history can impact child parenting matters. Does having a criminal history automatically prevent a parent from getting parenting time? What if a parent has concerns about their child’s safety with the other parent? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to questions like these. Courts make child-related decisions on a case-by-case basis. However, it is very possible that a parent’s criminal history may impact the court’s decision regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time.
The Child’s Best Interests is Paramount
Illinois courts always prioritize the child during any child-related matter. If there is evidence to suggest that a parent may represent a danger to the child, the court may order restricted parenting time. Restrictions may include:
- Supervised parenting time (supervised visitation)
- Limiting the amount of parenting time
- Eliminating the parent’s right to parenting time altogether
- Requiring the parent to undergo drug or alcohol rehabilitation or treatment before being granted parenting time
- Prohibiting the presence of certain individuals during parenting time
- Prohibiting the parent from using drugs or alcohol during parenting time
These types of restrictions are only put in place if there is sufficient evidence that unrestricted parenting time would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional wellbeing. Having a criminal record does not automatically mean that a parent will be subjected to restricted parenting time.
The type of crime the parent committed is an important factor in the court’s decision in this type of situation. A conviction for drunk driving from ten years ago is much less likely to influence child parenting decisions than a recent offense involving violence or abuse of a child.
Often, the court assigns a guardian ad litem to cases involving concerns about a child’s safety. The guardian ad litem is a child advocate who investigates both parents, conducts interviews, and makes a recommendation to the court.
Contact a DuPage County Child Custody Lawyer
If you have concerns about your child’s safety with the other parent or you are worried that your own criminal history may impact your case, contact MKFM Law for help. Our skilled Wheaton family law attorneys understand that having a criminal record does not automatically make someone a bad parent. However, we also understand that protecting children and keeping them safe should always be the top priority. Call us today at 630-665-7300 to set up a consultation and discuss your case.