Can a Criminal Conviction Affect Your Divorce or Custody Case?

We all make mistakes, but a serious mistake – and the criminal conviction that mistake may entail – could affect your divorce or child custody case. If you have a criminal conviction, and you’re getting divorced, you must be represented by a Jefferson County divorce attorney.

Criminal behavior, such as drug addiction or domestic abuse, is frequently the real reason for a divorce, so if you have a criminal conviction, or if you are married to someone who has a conviction, you need to understand the effect that conviction can have on your divorce.

When deciding child custody cases, the child’s best interests are always the court’s highest priority. In order to determine what is in a child’s best interests, a Missouri court may consider a parent’s history of domestic abuse, substance addiction, or other criminal behavior.

How Do Divorce Courts Handle Previous Criminal Convictions?

If you are charged with any crime in or near Jefferson County or the greater St. Louis area, you must contact a Jefferson County criminal defense lawyer at once. No guarantee can ever be made in a criminal case, but having a good lawyer is your best hope for avoiding a conviction.

If one of the spouses in a divorce received a criminal conviction in the past, the court may consider the context of that conviction and how it may be related to the divorce. The court will scrutinize the crime, how long ago it happened, and whether the spouse has been rehabilitated.

In other words, when a court considers a prior criminal conviction during a divorce proceeding, there’s no “one solution fits all” answer, and previous criminal convictions are examined on a case-by-case basis.

How Can a Criminal Conviction Affect the Division of Marital Property?

For divorce, Missouri is an “equitable” rather than an “equal” property distribution state, so in a divorce proceeding, marital property is divided by the court in a way that the court decides is fair to both spouses – but not necessarily equal.

A previous criminal conviction seldom directly influences the division of marital property – unless marital assets were involved – but a judge may be persuaded that a criminal conviction makes a substantially unequal division of marital property necessary for fairness.

If your criminal activity or criminal conviction in any way hindered your spouse’s ability to earn income, dissipated marital assets, or impaired the accumulation of marital assets, that activity or conviction could prompt the court to give a larger share of the assets to the innocent spouse.

How Can a Criminal Conviction Affect a Child Custody Dispute?

When a child’s custody is decided by a Missouri court, that court’s highest priority will be the best interests of the child. Anything that may pose a risk to the child will be considered, and a conviction for any of these offenses would seriously disadvantage a parent who seeks custody:

  1.  domestic abuse or violence
  2.  sexual abuse or violence
  3.  child neglect, abuse, or abandonment

A conviction for a crime that victimizes a child or risks the safety of a child may move the court to order supervised visitations or to prohibit visitations. Other crimes may also affect a custody ruling if those crimes suggest a propensity for violence or a disregard for the safety of others.

Moreover, the court may permanently terminate someone’s parental rights if the court believes that continuing the parent’s relationship with the child is detrimental to the child’s best interests.

What About Domestic Violence Allegations?

If you have not been convicted of a crime, but your spouse claims that you have committed domestic violence, that claim will be taken seriously by a Missouri divorce court, and it may affect the court’s decisions about the division of marital assets or the custody of your child.

However, claims of domestic violence are sometimes false claims. Most people would be surprised at how frequently Missouri family law attorneys, judges, and defense lawyers hear fabricated allegations of domestic violence.

During a divorce proceeding, if your spouse claims that you committed domestic violence, your divorce lawyer will fight aggressively to uncover the truth. However, a claim of domestic violence is like any other claim in a divorce, and what is “true” is ultimately decided by a judge.

What Else Should You Know About Divorce in Missouri?

You have to be a resident of Missouri for at least ninety days before you can file for a divorce in this state. Once your spouse has been served with divorce papers, it takes at least thirty days for a court to finalize the divorce, but the most complicated divorces can take a year or longer.

What does divorce cost? It can be costly when spouses fight over the division of assets, alimony, or the custody of their child or children. Agreements and compromises can reduce that cost, but the final cost of a divorce can’t be determined until a lawyer reviews the details of your case.

Divorce can be one of the most important events in a person’s life. If you plan to divorce your spouse – or if your spouse is planning to divorce you – discuss your rights, options, and circumstances with a Jefferson County divorce attorney before you take any other steps.

Where Can You Find a Lawyer Who Will Handle All of Your Legal Needs?

With more than three decades of combined legal experience, the Grafe & Batchelor legal team will meet all of your legal needs. Whether you need a Jefferson County criminal defense lawyer to fight a criminal charge or a good divorce attorney to defend your interests, we can help.

A divorce attorney at Grafe & Batchelor will bring your divorce proceeding to its best possible conclusion – even if you’ve been accused of domestic violence or you have a previous criminal conviction. Your attorney will ensure that you’re treated justly and fairly by the divorce court.

To find out more about your options and rights in a Missouri divorce – or if you’ve been charged with a crime in or near Jefferson County – call Grafe & Batchelor now at 636-220-5934 to schedule a free case evaluation with no obligation. We know how to put the law on your side.