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Can a parent lose child custody because of a criminal record?

Region: Ontario Answer # 2124

It is permissible to introduce the details of a parent’s criminal record during family court proceedings. Having a criminal record will reflect negatively on the parent’s character.

The parent with the criminal record should be prepared show how he or she has been rehabilitated, has not had any further dealings with the police and has taken steps to remove the criminal record. At the very least, a criminal record will negatively affect the parent’s application for custody or visitation.

Depending on the offence, a criminal record may discredit the individual’s custodial ability. This means that the judge may determine that the parent is not fit to make decisions on behalf of the child, or, in fact, fit to be alone with or care for the child.

Of course, the judge will consider many factors before limiting or removing a parent’s rights. Although the parents’ rights are important, in family matters, the court’s focus is the welfare of the child and an old criminal record that resulted in a discharge, was an isolated event, and did not involve violence would affect custody and visitation rights far less than a criminal record that is recent and of a serious and violent nature.  For more information, refer to What is child custody and how is it determined?

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.


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