Can a DUI Affect Child Custody in California?

Everyone makes mistakes, but a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) is a mistake that can have far reaching consequences, especially if that person is a parent who is sharing custody of a child. At The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, our experienced criminal defense attorneys and family law attorneys are here to provide reliable legal advice on this issue. To learn more, call or contact our office to schedule an initial consultation of your case today.

Determining the Best Interests of the Child

Whenever there is an issue involving child custody in California, the judge in the case must always look at the matter through the lens of what is in the best interests of the child. This means that the court must always place the health, safety, and welfare of the child above all else. Furthermore, the court considers it in the child’s best interest to have continuous and frequent contact with both parents unless provided evidence otherwise. One such factor that is weighed in the determination of a child’s best interests is whether a parent engages in the habitual or continual use of alcohol.

How DUI Can Impact Custody

If one parent in a child custody case accuses the other of engaging in habitual or continual use of alcohol, the court may request independent corroboration of this allegation. This can include written reports from law enforcement, courts, probation departments, social welfare agencies, medical or rehabilitation facilities, and other organizations that offer alcohol abuse services. One such piece of evidence that may be used is a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI).

The circumstances of a DUI conviction often determine how much weight the court gives this evidence. If the conviction happened years or decades prior, the judge may not consider it when determining custody. However, if the DUI was recent and part of a larger body of evidence of alcohol abuse, the court may consider it when determining what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child. A DUI conviction is taken most seriously if the child was in the vehicle when the arrest occurred.

 If a judge does decide that a DUI is serious enough to alter the outcome of a child custody case, there are many outcomes to the scenario. The court may award sole custody to one parent, or it may order supervised visitation with the parent who was convicted for DUI. The court may also order that the parent undergo alcohol rehabilitation or testing prior to awarding visitation or joint custody with the other parent. To learn more about the various ways that a DUI conviction may affect a custody matter, talk to our criminal defense and family law attorneys today.

 Call or Contact Our Office Now

Do you have questions or concerns about how a DUI conviction may impact your child custody case in the Los Angeles area? If so, the dedicated lawyers at The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates are here to help. Call or contact our office today to schedule a case consultation.