Child’s Best Interest Considered When Custody Is Granted In Ohio, But What If The Parent Has Criminal Convictions On File?
Yes. Criminal convictions may impact the Judge’s decision regarding who is granted custody. In Ohio, as in most states, the guiding principle is “what is in the child’s best interest“. By necessity, this must be a very comprehensive consideration of many factors. In Ohio, Section 3109.04 (F)(1) lists 10 specific factors the Court is to consider when making a custody determination.
(F) (1) In determining the best interest of a child pursuant to this section, whether on an original decree allocating parental rights and responsibilities for the care of children or a modification of a decree allocating those rights and responsibilities, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
- The wishes of the child’s parents regarding the child’s care;
- If the court has interviewed the child in chambers pursuant to division (B) of this section regarding the child’s wishes and concerns as to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities concerning the child, the wishes and concerns of the child, as expressed to the court;
- The child’s interaction and interrelationship with the child’s parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;
- The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all persons involved in the situation;
- The parent more likely to honor and facilitate court-approved parenting time rights or visitation and companionship rights;
- Whether either parent has failed to make all child support payments, including all arrearages that are required of that parent pursuant to a child support order under which that parent is an obligor;
- Whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense involving any act that resulted in a child being an abused child or a neglected child; whether either parent, in a case in which a child has been adjudicated an abused child or a neglected child, previously has been determined to be the perpetrator of the abusive or neglectful act that is the basis of an adjudication; whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of section 2919.25 of the Revised Code (Domestic Violence) or a sexually oriented offense involving a victim who at the time of the commission of the offense was a member of the family or household that is the subject of the current proceeding; whether either parent or any member of the household of either parent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any offense involving a victim who at the time of the commission of the offense was a member of the family or household that is the subject of the current proceeding and caused physical harm to the victim in the commission of the offense; and whether there is reason to believe that either parent has acted in a manner resulting in a child being an abused child or a neglected child;
- Whether the residential parent or one of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree has continuously and willfully denied the other parent’s right to parenting time in accordance with an order of the court;
- Whether either parent has established a residence, or is planning to establish a residence, outside this state.
Click here to read this statute.
In addition, the Court is to consider any other “relevant” factors. You can see that the Ohio custody statute above mentions crimes of domestic violence, sexually oriented offenses, harm, abuse or neglect of children. But violent past convictions could also be problematic.
The Judge will look at the big picture, how old the conviction was, and the specifics of the crime. How will the criminal conduct likely affect the life and wellbeing of the child? In addition, a new partner’s criminal record will also be scrutinized.
IS THE CONVICTION RELEVANT TO THE CUSTODY CASE?
A criminal record with numerous drug possession convictions could be an indicator of drug addiction. Likewise, multiple DUI convictions may indicate an alcohol addiction problem. A history of violent past behavior may well raise “red flags”. Minor convictions likely will not have any relevance.
NOT ALL CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS ARE TREATED THE SAME
Obviously, the courts don’t treat all criminal convictions the same. Depending on the nature of the crime, it may or may not have a huge impact on child custody.
Convictions of certain felonies often lead to parents losing custodial rights. The list includes:
- Aggravated assault.
- Domestic Violence.
- Any sexual offenses.
- Anything harming or endangering a child.
Since the child’s best interest is the main focus, do the convictions negatively impact on that parent’s ability to properly care for the child? The Court will likely look at these factors:
- How old is the conviction;
- Nature of the crime/conviction;
- Length of sentence;
- Existence of repeat offenses; and
- Your rehabilitation.
The Child Custody Lawyers at Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues Will Assist Dayton Area Clients Evaluate Conviction Concerns
If you are seeking custody and there is a criminal conviction in your past, it is best to evaluate what complications, if any, it likely will present. Our custody lawyers have helped many clients with criminal convictions obtain custody of their children over the years. Please call us at 937 293-2141 to schedule a conference with one of our custody lawyers. We are offering conferences in person, via Zoom or over the phone.
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Robert L. Mues
Attorney Robert "Chip" Mues has been focusing his legal practice throughout Southwest Ohio primarily in divorce and family law matters since 1978. Chip is passionate about family law and has proudly published the Ohio Family Law Blog since 2007. In addition, he is the managing partner of Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues. To learn more about him or the law firm, visit the firm's website at www.hcmmlaw.com. Appointments are available in person, over the phone or by Zoom. Call us at 937 293-2141.