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It can be devastating for both parents and children when a parent is convicted of a crime they committed. Their ability to be present in their children’s lives may be impacted as a result. To determine whether or not the parent should be able to have contact with their child, there are a number of factors that the judge must take into consideration. Such considerations should include an assessment of the parent’s criminal history, the crime they committed, and what the parent-child interactions look like.

Criminal History of the Parent

Acquiring another conviction would impact the parent’s ability to be able to have contact with their child. A judge may look at past criminal history which establishes a pattern of behaviour. If a parent has spent a lot of time serving prison sentences, the attachment with their child may have been impacted. The parent may not have a very strong relationship with the child as a result of limited contact. If there is an extensive criminal history, a judge may view the parent as unable to take care of their child. In some cases, the judge may decide that the parent’s access to the child should be suspended until the parent is able to get their life together.

The Crime

A judge will determine if the child could be at risk depending on the nature of the crime that was committed. If the parent committed a crime such as drug possession or theft, more than likely their access to the child would not be restricted as the crime is not one that could endanger the child. The courts may determine that a parent’s contact should be severed if they committed a crime that was violent or could put the child at further risk should they have contact. This could include crimes of assault, domestic abuse or sexual abuse.  

Assessing Their Parenting Abilities

A judge will be looking to learn information about the interaction that occurs with the parent and child. Committing a crime does not always mean that the parent does not care for their children in a way that meets their needs appropriately. If the connection between parent and child is strong and loving, the judge would consider allowing contact between them.

Research shows that when parents and caregivers are working together to meet the needs of their children, the children are happier. Children need to be connected and in relationship with their parents whenever possible. Because of this, the decision to terminate a parents’ visitation is never taken lightly by a judge.

In most cases, a parent should be able to have contact with their child even if they have been convicted of a crime. There are creative and alternative ways to continue the parent child relationship even when a parent is incarcerated. Before making a determination, a judge will assess the conviction, the criminal history, their parental abilities and the connection they have with their child. It is important to consult with an attorney, like a child custody lawyer Tampa FL looks to, well versed in child custody cases in the event you are looking for further guidance.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Mckinney Law Group for their insight into family law.