When filing a case for any type of child custody in Pennsylvania, both parties must fill out and file a criminal history form with the court. This form lists certain crimes, and the parties must disclose if they or any adults in their household have ever been convicted of any of the listed crimes. DUI is included on this list, and must be reported to the court during custody proceedings in Pennsylvania Family Court.
Pennsylvania Family Judges can look not only at any DUI convictions for the parents, they can also take into consideration DUI convictions for any member of a custodial parent's household. Their ability to do this gives the judge discretion to balance the DUI convictions with the best interest of the child standard.
For example, a judge who sees a DUI conviction on a record from when a parent was 22, and that parent is now in their 40s fighting for custody, the DUI may not be of much concern to the judge. Although, the judge still may want to ask the parent about the offense, the judge would probably understand that the offense happened so long ago, before the child was even born.
The larger issues are for more recent DUI convictions that occur while the party already had parental duties. The judge may also consider multiple convictions versus just one DUI. The judge will likely want to know where the child was at the time of the DUI. If the child was present in the motor vehicle at the time of the offense, the judge may feel that the parent poses a danger to the child. However, if the parent had no responsibilities relating to child care at the time of the arrest, the judge may feel differently.
There are many factors that a judge must consider when deciding a custody case. A DUI can play a large role in the outcome of a Pittsburgh custody trial. The opposing party may make it a point to push the issue by arguing that the DUI should be considered as a safety-risk to the child. Having even one DUI could be a huge issue in a Pennsylvania child custody case.
If you've been convicted of a DUI in the past, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Pennsylvania child custody and DUI attorney. For more information or to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us today!