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How Can a Parent’s OWI Conviction Impact a Child Custody Case?

 Posted on July 19, 2023 in Divorce

Madison Family LawyerWhen a person is arrested for operating while intoxicated (OWI) in Wisconsin, they face the potential of harsh penalties if convicted, including suspended driver’s license, fines, and even the potential of jail time if they have prior offenses. Another very critical issue that an OWI conviction can cause is the significant impact it can have on child custody.

Child custody is awarded based on what is in the best interest of the child and if there is any behavior by either parent that raises concerns about the safety and well-being of the child, the court may find it relevant enough to impact its decision. The following are some of the ways an OWI conviction can affect the court’s decision.

Parental Fitness

Family law judges place a high emphasis on the safety and well-being of the child. An OWI conviction may imply to the court that the parent’s behavior is irresponsible and a high risk to the child’s safety. The conviction may also raise concerns about the parent’s ability to prioritize the child’s needs and their ability to make sound decisions.

An OWI conviction can be seen as evidence of a parent's lack of fitness to care for a child. It may be viewed as a reflection of poor decision-making skills, a disregard for the law, or potential substance abuse issues. These factors can undermine a parent's credibility and ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment for the child.

Impact on Parenting Time

Depending on the severity of the OWI offense and the penalties upon conviction, such as license suspension or mandatory treatment programs, the parent may be unable to fulfill their parenting time obligations completely. This can have an impact on the current custody arrangement and the court may modify or reduce parenting time in order to protect the child’s safety.

Co-Parenting Relationship

When one parent has been convicted for OWI, it can also put a strain on the co-parenting relationship, leading to tension and conflict between the two parents. This can have an adverse effect on the child. When deciding on child custody, one of the factors the court will consider is the ability of the parents to communicate effectively and cooperate with each other. An inability to do so can affect the court’s decision.

Rehabilitation Efforts

The steps taken by the parent to address the issues that led to the OWI conviction can play a role in custody decisions. Completing mandatory treatment programs, attending counseling or support groups, and demonstrating a commitment to making positive changes can help mitigate the impact of an OWI conviction on child custody.

Contact a Rock County Family Lawyer for Legal Assitance

Ultimately, the impact of an OWI conviction on child custody will depend on various factors, including the circumstances of the offense, the parent's history and behavior, and the court's evaluation of the child's best interests. It is critical to have a skilled Madison, WI child custody lawyer representing you who will help navigate you through this difficult legal process, present your case effectively, and take the appropriate steps to demonstrate your commitment to being a responsible and fit parent. Call John T. Fields & Associates, LLC at 608-729-3590 to schedule a private consultation and find out what legal options you may have.  



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