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Can I Lose Custody of My Children Because of My DUI?

Divorce is often difficult for all parties involved and is often particularly complicated for couples with children. If the parents don’t agree on a custodial arrangement on their own, it can result in a lengthy court battle as lawyers and parents argue their case in front of a judge. In these types of legal arguments, past behavior and future predictions are heavily scrutinized. Judges take parents’ employment, behavior, legal history, and childrens’ opinions into consideration, along with many other factors.

Parents with a DUI in their past, especially a recent DUI, may find that it affects their custody case. An attorney can tell you with certainty what you can expect, but here are some of the reasons a DUI may be an issue in your custody proceedings:

  1. Child safety: A judge will likely be concerned if a parent has a recent DUI in their past, especially if their child was present for the offense. Even if they were not, an impaired driving charge could indicate a serious safety issue, and the opposing counsel will likely argue this fact as part of their case.
  2. Inability to drive: If a parent has lost their license as a result of the DUI, the opposing counsel may raise concerns about their ability to drive their child legally to school, medical appointments, and other activities. Some states allow DUI offenders to obtain a provisional license if they install an interlock device. However, in some cases the locations offenders can drive to is limited, which may still raise concerns.
  3. Earning potential: A DUI can create potential employment problems. If the offender has employment dependent on a commercial driver’s license, for example, they will likely be unable to continue in that field. There are other fields requiring various types of licensing and certification that will be unavailable as well, and many scenarios that could result in a loss of employment. This includes inability to travel to work due to license revocation, as well as company policy or other potential problems that could arise, which all implicates a parent’s earnings.
  4. Rental and home ownership opportunities: Some landlords or mortgage lenders will decline to rent or loan money to prospective tenants with a DUI on their record. This is for a variety of reasons, including earnings potential and reliability. This may raise questions about the stability of a parent’s home.
  5. Concerns about home environment: A DUI can raise concerns about a possible alcohol or drug abuse issue. If the offender is struggling with addiction, this will impact the children in the home even if they are not physically harmed. A judge may be reluctant to award custody to a parent if they are actively addicted to alcohol or drugs due to concerns about the safety and stability of the home environment.

Each case is different, and a variety of factors are taken into account, but a DUI conviction or arrest can have a serious impact on custody proceedings.

How a DUI Assessment Can Help in Court and Custody Proceedings

Some courts may mandate an alcohol or substance use assessment, or a DUI assessment, but even if they don’t, it’s a good idea to get one, including before custody proceedings.

A DUI assessment will take a thorough look at the specifics surrounding the incident, your lifestyle, and your relationship to drugs and alcohol. The professional evaluator who prepares your report will offer recommended next steps that you can proactively begin prior to your court date. You can use the results in court. This can benefit your case in several ways, including:

  1. Placing incidents in greater context: Many people who are arrested for DUI are not alcoholics. They have simply made a regrettable mistake, and the results of their evaluation prove that. Showing this in your evaluation report can help your case, particularly in a custody battle. Showing that there is no history of addiction could be used to effectively counter claims from opposing counsel or assuage the judge’s concerns.
  2. Giving clear next steps: The evaluation will include recommendations for alcohol education or treatment, if necessary. Getting these recommendations before your court date allows you to take action and show the judge you are working on the issue at hand and taking responsibility for your actions.
  3. Provides third-party opinion: Having an opinion from an unbiased third party can help add weight to your case in court. A professional declaring your DUI incident situational, for example, can show you are not at risk of reoffending.

In some cases, an assessment can even contribute to charges being lessened or dismissed entirely, which would of course also impact how your DUI charge is perceived during custody negotiations. It’s also important to note that if you get an assessment and don’t wish to use it, you are not required to do so (unless your assessment was mandated by the court).

How US Court Assessments Can Help

US Court offers a variety of assessment options, including DUI assessments. We have years of experience providing assessments and a staff of caring, professional evaluators who will not judge you. We offer rush turnaround services to meet upcoming court dates, and a money-back guarantee if your assessment is not accepted in court.

To get started, register now and fill out our initial questionnaire. Once you do so, an assessor will reach out to schedule your appointment for within 5 days of your request.

Need an assessment? We can help.