Can Criminal Charges Affect My Divorce?

How Does Being Convicted of a Crime Affect My Divorce?

In a divorce case, the presiding judge makes determinations based on numerous factors, and actions taken by both you and your partner as you’ve lived your lives can have a large impact on the judge’s decisions. If you have a criminal charge or conviction on your record and are about to enter divorce proceedings, you need to know that those charges can drastically alter the course of the case and the final outcome.

Overall Divorce Proceedings

In Texas, you can file for divorce on both no-fault grounds or fault grounds. One of the fault grounds is conviction of a felony, so your partner could file for divorce if you are convicted of your charges; however, your criminal charges do not impact the speed of the divorce proceedings.

Texas code indicates that 60 days must pass in order for a divorce to be finalized. The only exception to this is if your charges are related to domestic violence, in which case it is possible to receive a waiver for this requirement from the judge and your proceedings may go on much more quickly.

Property Division

Texas is a community property state, meaning that assets acquired during your marriage will be divided equally. While you may fear that your history of criminal charges will impact the amount of property you receive after your divorce proceedings, criminal charges are not a direct factor in dividing property. You should still receive your equal amount of property as a result of the judge’s determinations.

However, some circumstances such as debt accrued during your marriage may receive additional scrutiny, and if that debt was acquired as a result of your criminal charges, you may be held solely responsible for that debt.

Child Visitation and Parenting Rights

This is where your criminal charges can significantly impact your case. A judge will place great consideration on the overall mental, physical well-being of the parties in a divorce when he/she makes his determinations for both child visitation rights and parental decision-making rights.

If you have criminal charges, a judge will consider several additional factors specifically related to those charges when determining child visitation and parental rights:

  • The nature of the crime committed (for example, a DWI with a child in the car will be more heavily looked at).
  • The length of time that has passed since the charges (charges from 25 years ago will make less of an impact than charges that are more recent).
  • The existence of any repeat offenses on your record (a one-time offense will not have as large of an impact as repeated similar charges).

If you have charges related to violent crime or a lengthy criminal history, chances are you are not going to receive favorable visitation and parental rights. Otherwise, there is a chance that your past charges may not have an impact on the judges decisions at all.

Regardless, the court will ultimately make determinations that are best for the child.

Child Support

When determining child support payments, a judge considers the time the child will spend with each parent as well as each parent’s income. If you carry criminal charges, you may have a harder time finding employment, meaning there may be an impact on your child support payments.

Can I Seek Additional Help?

Yes! We highly recommend hiring a criminal defense attorney in addition to your divorce attorney in order to ensure you are fairly represented in the courtroom during your divorce proceedings. At James H. Horton Law Firm, P.C., we have over eight decades of experience in both criminal defense and family law. If you’re about to go through a divorce and have any criminal charges on your record, contact our team of experts today to protect your rights.

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