How Does A DUI Affect Child Custody?

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How Does A DUI Affect Child Custody?

When a court rules on a child custody case, the best interest of the child comes first. Parents with a DUI may be concerned about how much that charge could affect their custody case. While a DUI charge can be viewed in a negative light during a child custody battle, there are a few factors that will determine whether it will ultimately affect the outcome of the decision.

Number of incidents

If you only have one DUI charge, it’s likely that you made a one-time mistake. A judge may not view this incident as an indication of a pattern of bad decision-making. The courts don’t necessarily care about past charges if they don’t provide evidence that it would affect your parental capability.

Having multiple DUI charges, on the other hand, may indicate a pattern of behavior. With multiple DUIs, courts may be concerned that you pose a safety risk for your child or that you exhibit signs of alcohol abuse which would pose a risk of exposing the child to instability.

Aggravating factors of DUI

However, just because you only have one incident, doesn’t mean that the courts won’t find other issues with the charge. Aggravating factors in a DUI could also negatively impact your case for custody. Having a minor in your car at the time of the DUI is one factor that may present a particular cause for concern for the court.

Recency of incidents

Depending on your situation, the recency of these DUI events can also factor into a judge’s decision. For example, if you had a few DUI charges, but they were from 10 years earlier, you could make a claim that you have reformed and that those charges are not a reflection on your current capacity to provide stability for your child.


In most cases making an effort to demonstrate rehabilitation will help reduce any potential concerns over your fitness to retain custody. Although the situation may not be ideal, your past does not have to determine your ability to parent your child.

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