How Could a DUI Charge Affect My Child Custody Agreement?

 Posted on July 15, 2021 in Child Custody and Visitation

Dad's divorce lawMost people understand the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For multiple decades, public safety campaigns have informed people about how the use of these substances can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. Drivers know that violating the law by driving while intoxicated can lead to multiple types of consequences, ranging from fines or the loss of a driver’s license to time in prison. However, people can make mistakes, and a lapse in judgment could lead to an arrest on suspicion of drunk driving and criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI).

While a DUI charge will have criminal consequences, it can affect someone’s personal life as well. If you are a father who has been arrested for DUI, you will want to understand how this will affect your custody of your children and your ability to spend visitation time with them. Fortunately, with the help of a DUI defense attorney, you can determine how to handle your criminal case, and you can also learn about the steps you can take to minimize the impact on your relationship with your children.

Child Custody Issues Related to DUI

Family courts are concerned with protecting children’s best interests and making sure they will be safe when in the care of their parents. Unfortunately, a DUI charge may be seen as an indication that your children could be at risk of harm when they are with you. If your children’s other parent is concerned about your children’s health and safety, they may ask for modifications to your child custody agreement that will reduce or place restrictions on the time you spend with your children.

Depending on what the court believes is appropriate, temporary or permanent changes may be made to child custody. In some cases, you may be subject to restrictions on your parenting time, such as the requirement that your time with your children be supervised by a professional or a trusted family member. You may also be required to participate in substance abuse treatment, and you may be prohibited from using alcohol or drugs before or during your parenting time.

While complying with these requirements may be difficult, especially if you do not believe a DUI charge had anything to do with your ability to care for your children, it is important to follow any orders put in place by a family court judge. By working with a family law attorney, you can demonstrate that you are following all safety precautions and ensuring that your children’s health and safety is protected. This will help you work toward regaining the right to have unrestricted time with your children.

Practical Effects of a DUI on Your Child Custody Agreement

Since a DUI arrest can affect multiple areas of your life, you may find that these issues will play a role in child custody matters, even if you will not face any restrictions on the time you spend with your children. If you were arrested for DUI, and a chemical blood alcohol test showed that you were over the legal limit, or if you refused to take a test of your blood, breath, or urine, you will most likely face a driver’s license suspension. The inability to drive during this period of suspension may affect your ability to transport your children to or from your home during your scheduled parenting time. To address this issue, you may need to make other types of transportation arrangements with your ex, or you may need to temporarily modify your child custody agreement.

A DUI charge can also have a number of effects on your finances. The requirement to pay fines, court costs, or higher insurance premiums may affect your overall budget, requiring you to readjust your spending to ensure that you will be able to pay your ongoing expenses. In some cases, a DUI arrest could lead to the loss of a professional license, which could affect your ability to maintain employment. Any required jail time following a DUI conviction could also lead to the loss of a job and difficulty finding work in the future.

It is important to remember that even if you are experiencing financial difficulties, you will still be required to pay child support as ordered by the court. If you have lost your job or have been unable to find or maintain employment, you may be able to ask for a temporary reduction of your child support obligations. However, a judge may not see an income reduction due to a DUI charge as a valid reason to lower child support, so you may still be required to pay the support that is owed. You will also be required to make up any missed child support payments, along with interest on any past-due amounts.

Get Legal Help With Your DUI Case

While being arrested for drunk driving can affect many areas of your life, having the right attorney on your side will help you minimize the potential consequences. A DUI defense lawyer can advise you of your options and provide you with representation in criminal proceedings or matters related to the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. You can also get invaluable advice on how you can avoid issues that will affect the custody of your children, ensuring that you will be able to maintain these important family relationships.


About the Blogger:

Michelle Behan is a criminal defense attorney practicing in Tucson, Arizona, and the founding attorney of The Behan Law Group, P.L.L.C. She focuses on defending clients against charges of domestic violence, DUI, and other serious crimes. Prior to her legal career, Michelle served in the U.S. Navy and the FBI. 


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