Criminal Charges Can Affect the Divorce Process
How Criminal Charges Impact a Divorce Case
Unfortunately, life choices do matter, and some can carry severe consequences. If you have been convicted of a crime or arrested, it could affect your divorce, especially if the crime involves a child or your spouse. The courts can use conviction records to determine the outcome of divorce-related matters, such as child custody and alimony.
Criminal Conviction and Divorce Actions
An individual’s criminal record can determine the final outcome of a divorce proceeding. Not all crimes are the same. Some of the criminal factors that can influence a judge’s decision on your divorce case include:
- When the crime was committed
- The type of criminal offense
- The relationship of the victim to the offender
- The rehabilitative measures taken by the offender
A criminal charge is not admissible unless there has been a conviction. However, some circumstances may be admissible in a few cases. For example, a crime committed when a spouse was under the influence of alcohol or drugs could be entered into the court’s record. While drinking or taking drugs are not necessarily crimes, they can affect the divorce’s final judgment. Any crimes against a spouse or children will significantly impact the divorce. The courts will consider all these factors in any divorce case.
A criminal conviction can affect other parts of the divorce proceedings, like the equitable distribution of property and alimony. While a criminal conviction is not a direct factor in the equitable distribution of property, it can become an indirect one. For example, a spouse should not be financially responsible for the other’s debt if they engage in criminal or fraudulent activity.
Alimony is another indirect factor in determining whether someone needs to pay their spouse. If one of the spouses can’t earn a living due to criminal activity, then the family courts will consider that factor when determining alimony cases.
Child Custody and Criminal Charges
If you have been arrested during your divorce proceedings, these charges can affect your child custody case. The best interests of the child is the most crucial factor courts consider when making decisions regarding custody. A person with a criminal past could be seen as a threat to a child. In many cases, the courts will consider several factors. Each parent’s physical, mental, moral and emotional fitness is examined. Any evidence of drug or alcohol abuse can affect a child custody case. Along with that, if a parent has physically or emotionally abused their children, spouse or someone else, those factors are heavily scrutinized in court.
While it may seem that a parent’s character is under examination, their criminal record can also influence the court’s decision. Any additional charges accrued during the divorce proceedings can negatively impact someone’s case.
In many situations, child support calculations are based on the number of children, the amount of time they spend with each parent and the income of the parents. If a parent is in custody, they are unlikely to be able to earn income to support their child. When the parent is released, then they have the ability to pay for child support. These child support issues can become very complicated, especially in New Jersey. Both parents must pay for child support in this state. If one spouse has been arrested or is facing a conviction with jail time, those factors can affect the child support payments. You need to speak to an experienced divorce lawyer to determine which factors can affect your case.
What to Do If You’re Arrested
Unfortunately, divorce proceedings can take several months to finalize. If the two spouses cannot decide on some vital factors, they will need to go to court and have a judge resolve these issues. During this time, you want to stay on the right side of the law. However, there are times when one spouse makes a mistake, and they end up behind bars. An arrest can impact alimony and child custody, but other aspects can also be affected.
Your Criminal Record Will Be Used in Court
Everyone will find out about your recent arrest. Your spouse’s attorney will work hard to make a case against you. You will have to address any criminal convictions and arrests in court. Even if you had a criminal record from the past, you should expect to explain those circumstances in court. Be prepared to answer a few questions. For that reason, you want to have a clean record. If you happen to be arrested during your divorce, it can work in your spouse’s favor.
You May Have to Complete Counseling
Any spouse with a criminal record could be required to complete counseling. In some cases, if you have been arrested during the divorce process, this may be a mandatory requirement. The counseling could include therapy, anger management or a parenting class. Depending on the reason for your arrest, the charges could be dropped if you successfully complete the course.
Your Legal Cost Could Increase
A current or past criminal charge could end up extending the time it takes to finalize the divorce. Furthermore, you will have to pay significantly more in legal bills. If you have been arrested, the divorce can take longer to complete, especially if children are involved. In many cases, you will often face some opposition regarding child custody. In turn, that means more court hearings, additional billable hours from your attorney and a lengthy divorce process.
It Could Postpone the Divorce Process
While you want the divorce process to be finalized quickly, a recent arrest can postpone all proceedings. The postponement will depend on the severity of the charges and where you have been arrested. For example, if you face felony charges, you could end up in jail, waiting to post bail. As you remain in custody, it can be challenging to finalize all that paperwork for your divorce. The divorce could be postponed until you are released from custody.
It Might Make It Impossible to Win Custody
An arrest for sexual assault, domestic violence or any other type of abuse can have a significant impact on your divorce and child custody cases. If you are charged with any of these crimes, winning a child custody case can be almost impossible. Even an allegation of abuse or violence can affect the judge’s decision. Therefore, it is important to find an experienced attorney who can offer you some advice on your case.
Enlist the Help of an Attorney
As you can tell, a recent arrest can affect your divorce proceedings. Even those old criminal records can play a big part in child custody or other divorce matters. If you are arrested, you need to seek the help of an attorney. A professional lawyer will be able to answer all your specific questions about your case.
The Law Office of Kelly Berton Rocco is ready to help with your family law case. Kelly and her associates can help you navigate the divorce process in New Jersey’s courts. If you have been recently arrested, there are options for your case. Make sure to schedule a consultation with these professional divorce lawyers by calling our Hackensack office at (201) 343-0078 or visiting our website.