If you are contemplating ending your marriage, your kids are likely to be your top concern. After all, if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse cannot reach an acceptable agreement, a judge is likely to decide where your children live after your divorce.
In Washington, judges must consider the best interests of the children when making orders about residential time. Unfortunately, if you have criminal convictions in your past, your record may influence the judge’s determination negatively.
Record-related factors that affect residential time
Having a criminal record does not automatically mean you are not eligible for residential time with your kids. Still, the judge in your case is likely to consider a few factors when deciding whether your children should live with you or your ex-spouse. These include the following:
- The seriousness of your criminal conviction
- The age and vulnerabilities of the victim
- The length of time that has passed since your conviction
- The number of criminal convictions on your record
Your options for securing residential time
While judges consider the criminal records of parents who seek residential time, your record is only one part of the judge’s determination. When evaluating the best interests of your children, the judge must consider other factors as well. To make a good argument for residential time, you may want to address the following:
- Your overall mental and physical health
- Your ability to provide a stable environment for your kids
- Your history of substance abuse
- Your relationship with your kids
- Your child’s needs
Ultimately, despite your criminal record, showing you are in a good position to provide for the unique needs of your children is likely to improve your odds of securing the residential time you want.