According to data published by the federal government, at least 6 percent of all American adults have a felony convictions on their records. This equates to one out of every 15 adults having a criminal record in the United States. While state laws can vary, it’s commonplace for a parent to be able to retain custody of his or her child even after he or she is convicted of a felony. There are just a few exceptions to this rule.
In instances in which an individual is convicted of certain felonies, his or her conviction may automatically lead to him or her losing all parental rights. Any parent convicted of child abuse, endangerment or neglect or any sexually-related offense involving a minor will most likely lose his or her custodial rights. At the same time, any conviction for a violent offense, such as murder, may result in an automatic termination of parental rights as well.
While a felony conviction for certain crimes can be used by a judge to deny a parent’s custodial rights, other factors will be considered when less-serious offenses are concerned. These factors include how long it’s been since the crime was committed, what crime the parent was charged with and whether he or she has committed other criminal offenses.
The judge’s main responsibility in making custody decisions is to choose what’s in the best interest of the child. This may include allowing the parent with the felony conviction to continue to have a say when it comes to the religious upbringing or health care of the child.
In cases in which a judge feels it’s not appropriate for the parent with a felony conviction to be around the child, he or she might still award that person visitation rights. In that case, it’s possible that the parent with the criminal record can enjoy either supervised or unsupervised rights to the child.
Even if the parent with the felony conviction is not awarded custody or visitation initially, it’s possible for he or she to be awarded custody down the road. In this case, it’s important that the parent maintain a clean record to show the judge that he or she is rehabilitated.
If you have a criminal conviction on your record and you’re looking to either retain custody of or visitation with your child, a Houston family law attorney can help.
Source: Livestrong, “Felony conviction & child custody rights,” Jon Williams, accessed July 18, 2017