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It is most likely the case that a criminal history will hurt a New Jersey family court’s child custody decision. However, this decision is not always so black-and-white. Continue reading to learn how having a criminal record plays into custody and how a seasoned Bergen County child custody attorney at McNerney & McAuliffe can come to your defense.

How can a criminal record impact a court’s child custody decision?

When evaluating a child custody case, a New Jersey family court will work toward a solution that is in the best interest of the child. Under normal circumstances, this usually means that they will grant joint custody so that a child can maintain a relationship with both parents.

However, if one of the child’s parents has a criminal record, the court may believe that the child’s safety would be threatened or compromised while under their care. And so, with the child’s physical safety as a top priority, the court may only grant this parent visitation rights, if anything at all.

What factors surrounding a criminal record will the court consider?

Though, a criminal record alone may not be enough for a New Jersey family court to rule out the possibility of joint custody rights. That is, the court will evaluate all the aspects surrounding a parent’s criminal record, which may include the following:

  • The nature of the offenses that a parent committed.
  • The frequency of the offenses that a parent committed.
  • The victims of the offenses that a parent committed.
  • The length of time since a parent committed these offenses.
  • The sentences a parent received for the offenses they committed.

For example, say a parent’s criminal history entails domestic violence, child abuse, spousal abuse, or kidnapping. The court will then conclude that the parent tends to act violently, which may pose a threat to the child’s immediate safety. In this scenario, the possibility of joint custody rights is slim.

Or, say a parent’s criminal history entails drug possession, acquisition, delivery, etc. The court will deem that the chance of having drugs in the home is a potential danger to the child, both physically and culturally. And so, they may not grant joint custody rights in this scenario, either.

However, this is not to say that a parent cannot take the proper measures toward earning the trust of the court once more. That is, they may attend anger management classes after their violent crime charge, or they may attend a substance abuse program after their drug charge, so that the court can eventually grant them access to their child.

We understand just how desperate you may be to be a part of your child’s life. So if you require assistance in fighting your child custody battle, you must reach out to a skilled Bergen County family law attorney today.

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