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Can a Criminal Conviction Affect My Parental Rights in Wisconsin?

Posted on in Family Law

Waukesha County family law firmMilwaukee, WI criminal defense and family law attorneysBy Attorney Max Stephenson and Family Law Paralegal Courtney Hess

If you are facing criminal charges, you are likely concerned about the potential penalties, including fines and imprisonment. However, the impact a conviction may have on your parental rights regarding your current and future children can be equally concerning. Convictions for violent and sensitive crimes, in particular, can impact your relationship with your children, so it is important that you hire a skilled attorney who can help you defend against false, exaggerated, or unfair allegations.

Criminal Records and Child Custody in Wisconsin

One way that a criminal record can affect your parental rights in Wisconsin is in legal proceedings involving child custody and placement, including after a divorce or separation. When determining whether to award a parent sole or joint custody of a child, the court will consider first and foremost whether the decision is in the child’s best interests. If a parent has a history of child abuse, interspousal abuse, other forms of domestic abuse, or alcohol and drug abuse, the court may rule that the parent poses a risk to the child’s well-being, and it may award full custody to the other parent as a result. Relevant criminal convictions may be used as evidence to establish a parent’s history of abuse.

If the court decides to allow some physical placement with a parent who has a history of abuse, it may order restrictions or conditions on the placement time, including a requirement that exchanges with the other parent or the entirety of the placement time must be supervised by a third party. Courts may also prohibit overnight placement or the use of controlled substances during placement time.

In some cases, a parent’s criminal history may be used as justification for the involuntary termination of parental rights. Possible examples include:

  • If the parent has a history of physical and sexual abuse against children
  • If the parent has a felony conviction for the death or injury of a child or another serious crime against children
  • If the parent has been convicted of homicide or solicitation to commit homicide of the child’s other parent

Defending Your Parental Rights in Wisconsin

If you have been charged with a crime that could negatively impact your parental rights, avoiding a conviction may be crucial for maintaining your freedom from imprisonment as well as your rights regarding your children. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to have the charges dismissed or achieve a verdict of not guilty in cases involving false accusations or self-defense. If a conviction is unavoidable, your attorney may be able to argue for your charges to be reduced to a misdemeanor, or they may arrange for you to complete a batterer or drug and alcohol treatment program, giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to reforming your behavior so that you can remain an important part of your children’s lives.

Contact a Milwaukee Criminal Defense Lawyer

At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our team includes attorneys who are experienced in both criminal defense and family law, and we understand the possible intersections between these two areas. When criminal charges threaten your parental rights, we will strive to give you the best defense possible. Contact a Milwaukee County criminal defense attorney today at 414-271-1440.

Sources:

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/767/v/41

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/48/viii/415

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