Child Custody Battles in New Jersey: Are Victories Possible With a Criminal Record?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Nov 10, 2023 | 0 Comments

Child custody battles are never easy. The stakes are high, emotions run deep, and shadows of past mistakes and future concerns seem to loom over every decision. These battles can be even more complicated for parents with past criminal convictions. If you are in this position, you will likely grapple with anxiety and uncertainty and question whether your past mistakes will tarnish your future relationship with your children. Although this predicament may feel hopeless, potential avenues for parents with criminal histories are available.

If you have a criminal conviction and are worried about whether your past will affect your chances of gaining custody over your children, contact our Family Law Team at (888) 535-3686 or via the online contact form.

The Best Interest Standard

New Jersey and many other states apply the "Best Interest Standard" to child custody battles. Under this standard, courts consider many factors on a case-by-case basis to determine what custody arrangement will ultimately be in the "best interest" of the minor. No one factor is determinative and is assessed considering the totality of the other factors. Some of these factors include:

  • The extent to which the parent participates in the child's life.
  • The relationship between the parent and the child.
  • The stability of the parent's home environment.
  • The physical and mental health of the parent.
  • The parent's willingness to accept the child's custody and/or responsibility.
  • The parent's employment obligations.

Does My Criminal Record Affect My Child's Best Interests? It Depends.

Although a parent's criminal record can undeniably be considered a significant factor in child custody considerations, it is not a dispositive factor. For instance, one parent may argue that the other parent's past crimes call into question their ability to provide a safe environment of major exercise and proper judgment. However, not all crimes are weighed equally. Courts may consider things like whether the crime was severe in nature, recent, or related to their parenting abilities. Courts may also consider whether the convicted parent has taken responsibility for their actions and demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation and personal growth. In this instance, a convicted parent involved with their child's life may demonstrate that he can provide a more nurturing environment than the other parent who is less involved with their child's life.

Likelihood of Success

Whether or not a parent with a criminal record succeeds in a custody battle will largely depend on the individual's ability to accept responsibility for their past and the nature of the child's needs. Parents hoping to demonstrate that their home provides the most nurturing environment can showcase a genuine commitment to rehabilitation and a positive lifestyle, significantly influencing the court's decision.

Parents can also provide the court with solid character references from individuals who can speak to their responsibility, judgment, and parenting capabilities. Additional proof of stable employment, community involvement, etc., can help counterbalance your criminal record's impact.

Work With an Understanding Family Law Attorney

While having a criminal record adds to the complexity of a child custody battle, it does not render your chances of success impossible. The Lento Law Firm Family Law Team believes everyone deserves a chance at redemption and family unity and can help you make compelling arguments that demonstrate your child's best interests. Don't let your past haunt your future any longer. Contact our Family Law Team at (888) 535-3686 or via the online contact form.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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