It’s common knowledge that a criminal record can have a detrimental effect on your life. Not only are there immediate penalties such as significant fines and possible incarceration, but you also face long-term complications such as restricted employment options, loss of access to public benefits, and even challenges when you seek custody of your children.

Although a criminal record does not legally preclude you from getting visitation rights or even custody, New York family court judges are required to make custody decisions based upon what they believe to be in the best interests of the child.

If your record consists of non-violent offenses, then they may not hold as much weight with the court, especially if you are not a habitual offender. Judges are more concerned with how any past criminal activity will affect the physical and mental well being of your children, and will look at factors such as:

  • The nature of the crime
  • How long ago you were convicted
  • The outcome (fines, incarceration, probation)
  • The existence of repeat offenses

An arrest for speeding or being intoxicated in public on New Year’s Eve may not be regarded as a big deal, but if you have charges or convictions arising from violent crimes, then they may be treated as evidence that you are unfit or present a potential danger to your children.

Child abuse

Any current or past convictions for child abuse will make it extremely difficult to get custody or even a fair amount of visitation. The concern will be that if you hurt the children once, you might do so again. If your record includes arrests or conviction for sex offenses involving children, then the court could even potentially terminate all of your parental rights.

Violent crimes

Similarly, convictions for weapons offenses, stalking, assault, and battery might arouse concerns about anger management and violent impulses. If you have a history of domestic violence, then the judge may draw a negative conclusion about your ability to be a positive influence and good parent.

Drug offenses

Drug convictions are also frowned upon, as no judge will embrace the thought of a parent smoking marijuana or doing hard drugs around their children. Even if the conviction was an isolated event, you will likely have to prove that you have maintained a good moral character since.

If your former spouse attempts to use your criminal record as evidence that you are unfit to have custody of your children, then contact a New York family law attorney immediately. Past mistakes do not always foretell future ones, and an experienced attorney can help you convince the court that moving forward, the best interests of the children will remain your primary focus. If you have a criminal record and are seeking child custody or visitation, then contact Jayson Lutzky, P.C. Mr. Lutzky is a lawyer with more than 34 years of experience representing New  Yorkers and is highly sought for family law cases. Call 718-514-6619 to set up a free in-office initial consultation. Visit to learn more.