Those who have made some mistakes in the past often worry whether criminal convictions or even charges may be held against them in a custody case. The short answer to this question is maybe, but it really depends on the nature of the charges, what happened in the criminal courts and when the offenses occurred.
For example, convictions related to family violence, assault, or drug or alcohol-related offenses may impact your chances of being named a guardian by the British Columbia family courts. It’s important to note that the Family Law Act means that parents are not automatically considered guardians by the courts. This is most applicable to a situation where the parents were never married and the child has been living with one parent.
In these cases, the nonresidential parent will need to show that being named a guardian is in the best interests of the children. If the parent is a guardian, they will have parental rights and responsibilities. If not, they will usually be limited to “contact time” specified by the courts.
Your ex can and may bring up your criminal record or pasts arrests in an attempt to show that you should not be granted custody. However, this doesn’t mean that you are without options. If the convictions are not related to family violence or other violent offenses and there is no danger to the children in your care, you may have a good case to present to the courts. It’s important to talk with a lawyer and be completely open and honest about anything in your past that may come up.
Source: The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, “An Overview of the Intersect between the Family Law Act, Criminal Code and the Ministry of Children and Family Development,” accessed May 24, 2016
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