As a parent, nothing matters more than being with and caring for your child or children until they are old enough to care for themselves. However, for various reasons, you could lose all that in a child custody battle. For example, a DWI conviction can cause you to lose your child custody rights. No one is usually prepared for how impactful a DWI conviction can be. Hiring an experienced DWI defense attorney is advisable immediately after your arrest. Your attorney will explain your options and the best fighting strategies to avoid a DWI conviction and protect your rights.

A Criminal Charge and Child Custody Issues

Family issues can be stressful and emotional, especially when children are involved. When a marriage ends, you must make significant decisions, not just for you and your partner but also for the innocent children. Judges mostly rule divorce cases involving children in favor of the children. Your decision as a parent must also align with the children’s best interests. Thus, if there are issues that could jeopardize the well-being of children, including criminal convictions, the judge will consider those in their final ruling. That is why you must fight for a favorable outcome if you face DWI charges and are fighting for child custody.

When a marriage ends and there are children, most parents fight for child custody. However, the judge must consider underlying issues to decide which parent will have child custody and which will have child visitation. The issue of child support and alimony will also come up, especially if one parent earns a low income or no income at all. A DWI-related charge will significantly impact a judge’s decision. The outcome of your DWI case will determine your fitness to care for your children. That could be difficult to handle, especially if the DWI charge is your first and you are a responsible parent.

Thus, if you face a DWI charge, whether misdemeanor or felony and are, at the same time, fighting for child custody, an experienced DWI attorney can help. Fortunately, there are strategies your attorney can use to fight your DWI charge for the best possible outcome. If you beat the DWI charge, you will improve your chances of being awarded custody of your children in a family court. Beating a DWI charge will also benefit your life significantly. Remember how impactful a criminal conviction can be for your life. It can make finding a job, lasting friendships, and enjoying some services at reasonable rates (like auto insurance) difficult.

Child Custody Issues in Texas

Texas child custody laws advocate for the child’s best interests. The judge must carefully consider a parent’s suitability to award child custody. This standard sets forth the criteria by which the family court decides other matters surrounding child custody, including

  • How involved a parent is in their child’s affairs
  • How cooperative the parent is
  • If the parent can provide a stable household for the child,
  • If the parent provides continuity for the child,
  • The judge will also consider the child’s wishes
  • If the parent has abuse charges or any other criminal charges against them.

You can qualify for child custody in all these areas except for having a criminal conviction. The judge will not overlook that conviction, even if it only occurred once. If your criminal conviction is profound, the judge can deny you child custody or take away your child custody rights.

There are mainly two types of custody for parents going through a divorce:

  • Sole custody
  • Primary joint custody

Judges issue sole custody in particular situations.

For example, if only one parent is actively involved in the child’s life, and the other parent has been absent most of the time, the judge can grant sole custody to the responsible parent. Additionally, your partner can receive sole custody of your child if the judge has received compelling evidence of child or spouse abuse against you.

Other situations that call for sole custody include alcohol or drug abuse and involvement in crime by the other parent. Joint custody is very common in most cases. Family court judges primarily grant joint custody because a child deserves the love and care of both parents.

However, not all charges and convictions can affect child custody. You could still maintain custody of your child after a criminal conviction, especially if your charges are minor. Some convictions will cause you to lose custody rights altogether, whereby the judge awards sole custody to your partner. You could sometimes lose custody and maintain joint custody with your partner. In the latter situation, your partner will be the custodial parent. But losing your custody rights does not mean that you will be wholly cut off from your child’s life. You can enjoy your visitation rights as per the judge’s directive. However, some criminal convictions could also cause you to lose your visitation rights.

A skilled attorney will study the details of your case to help you understand the likely outcomes of your case and your options. They can also develop a fighting strategy that could result in a fair outcome for your case. 

Criminal Charges That Affect Child Custody Cases

The last thing you want when fighting for child custody is for anything to render you unsuitable to care for and spend time with your child. Sadly, some criminal charges and convictions have this effect.

For example, suppose you face charges for a sex-related or violence-related offense or have a prior conviction for a similar offense on your record. In that case, the judge will consider that when granting child custody. Other convictions that will influence the outcome of your child custody case include sexual abuse, child abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, and murder.

Offenses like these show that you have anger or drug issues that could make it difficult for you to provide a safe and stable home environment for your child.

Thus, if you have a criminal record or face criminal charges at the time of your child custody case, the judge will consider these factors to determine your case:

  • The nature of your crime
  • The victim of your offense, whether it is a stranger, acquaintance, friend, or family member
  • How old you were when you committed the crime
  • How long ago you committed the offense
  • The sentence you received upon conviction and how well, or otherwise, you served it.
  • How grave your criminal history is, for example, if you have one or multiple convictions
  • Mitigating factors in your criminal case

Judges consider these factors in light of the minor to determine whether you are fit for custody. If your criminal history suggests that you are incapable of caring for your child or the child’s well-being will be in jeopardy while under your care, the judge will deny you custody. The judge will decide even if your criminal history does not involve direct harm to your child or immediate family.

DWI is a serious offense that puts many people at risk of harm. That is why a DWI charge or conviction will impact your child custody case.

A DWI Charge and Child Custody

A DWI charge occurs after the police arrest you on suspicion of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is a grave offense that could result in lengthy jail or prison time and a hefty court fine. A DWI conviction is also life-changing, as it could impact your suitability for child custody. If you face DWI charges and have a pending child custody case, your charges could affect the outcome of our child custody case. A prior DWI conviction has the same effect on your child custody case. Your experienced DWI attorney can explain your options and help you choose a fighting strategy to help your situation.

If you are going through a tough divorce, where your partner is fighting for everything you hold dear, they could use your current or prior DWI charge to obtain sole custody of your child. The judge could rule in their favor if they do not have a criminal record and show all the signs of being a suitable custodial parent. However, a current or prior DWI charge is not the world's end. Your attorney can help you mount a solid defense against your charges to compel the judge to dismiss the charges.

DWUI convictions are red flags in family courts. A DWI could showcase your inability to provide stability and safety for your child. If the DWI case is ongoing, your partner’s attorney can convince the court that should you be convicted and sent to jail or prison, your child will be significantly affected if the court grants you custody. Suppose you lose your driver’s license to suspension or revocation (likely after a DWI conviction). Your child will be affected since you cannot transport them to school, the hospital, or anywhere else. That could compel the judge to revoke your child's custody.

If you have multiple DWIs on your record or DWIs with the child in the vehicle, your chances of becoming a repeat offender are usually high. That amounts to child endangerment, which is a grave offense. It is also sufficient for the judge to deny or revoke your custody rights. A child endangerment charge can result in two years in prison and a court fine of $10,000. Depending on the details of your case, it will also cause you to lose your driver’s license for 180 days or more.

A felony DWI charge, or a charge for intoxication, assault, or manslaughter, is also considered grave and can significantly affect your custody case. Serious DWI charges indicate your unsuitability to care for a child or even provide stability for your family. That is why you must be prepared to fight your charges if you want custody of your child after a divorce. Multiple DWIs indicate that you have an alcohol or drug problem and, therefore, are an unsuitable parent. Your attorney can guide you on the best strategies to obtain the best possible outcome for your case.

Note: Misdemeanor DWI charges are considered severe, just like felony charges. They, too, can affect your custody case. Even though a misdemeanor charge sounds less severe, it could have life-changing consequences.

The Best Strategies to Fight a DWI Charge

Judges determine sentences for DWI convictions based on the circumstances of your case and your criminal history. A first-offense DWI can result in a maximum of six months in jail, while a fourth or subsequent DWI can result in a longer prison sentence. Incarceration will affect your relationship with your child, whether for a few months or years. You cannot care for a child while behind bars. That is why judges consider your criminal history when determining custody cases. The judge can take away your custody rights pending the determination of your case. Then, you can reclaim them once the case is over or after your sentence.

However, what you do after your case will depend upon several other factors, for example, if you are violent and whether you can provide a stable home for your child. Sadly, there is usually no certainty that you will have your child back after a DWI conviction. A skilled attorney will advise you to fight your underlying charge to minimize its impact on your custody case.

Here are some of the strategies that could provide a favorable outcome in your DWI case:

You Were Not Driving

If you face DWI charges, the prosecutor must demonstrate that you were driving a vehicle while intoxicated. If you argue that you were not the driver during your arrest or that the car was not moving, the judge could dismiss your charges. But you need compelling evidence to convince the jury that someone else was the driver or that you had parked the vehicle and had no intention of driving it in your condition. If that is the case, your situation will not affect your custody case, even if there is evidence that you were highly intoxicated. You are not guilty of DWI if you were not driving, even if your blood-alcohol concentration was beyond the legal standard. 

Your BAC Test Was Inaccurate

The prosecutor bears the burden of proof in DWI cases. They must demonstrate that you were driving while intoxicated or high on drugs. However, you can fight your charges if you doubt the accuracy of your test results. For example, if you were not intoxicated or only had one drink and your driving ability was okay, the results could be wrong. An aggressive DWI attorney will investigate how the test was conducted and whether the testing equipment was well-calibrated to gather evidence in your favor.

If the officer who administered your test was not trained to administer BAC tests, or the equipment used was faulty, the judge can dismiss your BAC results. If the prosecutor has insufficient evidence against you, the judge will dismiss your case altogether.

The Arresting Officer Violated Your Rights

Police officers must inform you and respect your rights after an arrest. You must be allowed to exercise your rights even while in police custody. For example,  you cannot answer the officers’ questions regarding your case without your attorney’s presence. You also have the right to an attorney. If you cannot hire one, you must have a state council. If your rights are violated after an arrest or the arresting officer fails to read your Miranda rights, the judge can dismiss any evidence gathered after your arrest. That could leave the prosecutor with insufficient evidence against you, compelling the judge to dismiss your case.

The Officer Did Not Have a Probable Cause To Arrest You

Police officers must only arrest you for a DWI if they suspect you of driving while intoxicated. If no suspicion exists, it will be an illegal arrest, which you can fight in court. DWI arrests after random stops do not count unless they occur at a scheduled DWI checkpoint. Thus, if you believe that the arresting officer does not have probable cause to arrest you, you can fight your arrest in court. The judge will dismiss your charges if you were illegally arrested.

Your BAC Result was a False Positive

You will likely register a false positive BAC if you have used an alcoholic substance, like mouthwash, right before taking the test. People who have GERD or acid reflux are also likely to register a false positive BAC, even if they have not consumed any alcohol. You can provide this argument in court if your BAC results are a false positive.

Once your DWI charge is dismissed, you can fight for custody of your child with minimal worries.

Find a Competent DWI Defense Lawyer Near Me

Are you or someone you know facing DWI charges amidst a child custody battle in Fort Worth?

It is one of the most challenging situations, especially if you want to stay close and take care of your child after a divorce. However, a skilled DWI attorney can help you strategize how to fight your DWI charge and stop its impact on your custody case.

At Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer, we can use the best DWI defense strategies to compel the judge to dismiss your charges. Call us at 817-470-2128 to learn about your options and our services.