Does a criminal conviction preclude a custody award?

The New York courts weigh many factors in contested custody battles between parents. One of those factors that could affect your right to custody or even visitation with your children is your criminal history.

It's important to note that not all criminal convictions will bar a parent from being granted custody. However, it is also fair to say that having a criminal conviction can definitely play a role in being denied custody.

If you have a criminal history, you need to disclose that to your family law attorney. Having him or her blindsided by opposing counsel with this knowledge will not advance your cause and could seriously harm your chances.

There are some convictions that will almost automatically disqualify a parent for primary custody. Those include:

-- Sex-related felonies

-- Child abuse

-- Child endangerment

Also, a parent who has racked up a string of drug-related convictions will have an uphill battle fighting a sober parent for custody. Even being in recovery now may not be enough to offset years of drinking or drugging. But it is definitely a start.

Misdemeanor convictions for crimes like possession of pot or a single DWI where the child was not present may not be as damning, especially if the other parent has a few skeletons rattling around as well. The more time that has lapsed from the conviction to the custody matter without any other brushes with the law, the better your chances may be of convincing the court that your single lapse of judgment has no bearing on your ability to parent effectively.

By providing your attorney with full disclosure about your criminal history, he or she will have the opportunity to present your custody case in the best possible light.

Source:, "Can I Get Custody Of My Child If I Have Been Convicted Of A Felony?," accessed Jan. 15, 2016

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