Does a DUI Affect Custody?

Before your attorney can answer any of your conservatorship questions, you will first need to provide information about you, your marriage and your family. First, there’s the basics. This includes your name, address and basically every significant information about you. You will also need to provide names, ages and other information about your children and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. The reason why you need to provide these to your attorney is simple: without this vital information, your attorney and the staff of the law firm won’t be able to prepare anything for your case. Or they could prepare for your case, but you can’t expect them to be able to do any proper preparation without this information. It’s like going to war. Your legal team can go to war, yes, but without ammunition.

Your attorney may also ask about any dark secrets you make have. The worst time for the skeletons in your closet to come out and haunt you is when you are fighting for conservatorship during your divorce. Your spouse is probably the person who knows you the most. If there is anything he or she can use against you in court, it’s best to let your attorney know about it so that he can prepare for it.

If you don’t have any skeletons you’re hiding in your closet, it’s perfectly okay. You probably won’t need to read the rest of this article. However, there are a number of people who do have certain secrets that they feel are threats to the case. If you are one of these people, read on.


Do You Have To Tell Your Attorney About A DUI Charge or Conviction?

One of the most common ‘skeletons’ is a DUI. Driving under the influence of alcohol may not sound like a serious crime, but it can create a wave of consequences. Substance abuse, such as alcohol addiction, is generally a sensitive issue in family law cases. If you have a history of alcohol abuse, chances are, it will make its way into your divorce or child custody case. There could be an argument about whether or not you are able, as a parent, to make positive decisions for the safety of your child. Unfortunately, having a DUI record means that you made the decision to drink alcohol and get behind the wheel, endangering the lives of many. This will look bad for your case. It would be difficult for you to argue and prove that you can always make rational decisions for your children, and that you can make sure that they are cared for and not neglected.
A history of DUI significantly lowers the chances of the court granting your requests related to conservatorship. This is because driving under the influence of alcohol is considered a major form of alcohol abuse.


How Conservatorship Works

Conservatorship in Texas is often shared equally between you and your ex-spouse after the divorce. Whatever type of family case you’re fighting for, you need to accept the fact that in the end, the conservatorship arrangement will always involve both you and your spouse, unless serious factors are at play such as domestic violence and child abuse by your spouse.
The court follows a standard that always prioritizes the best interests of your child. The court only looks at facts before reaching a conclusion and a decision, and it will seriously consider how safe the home and the environment that you can provide for your child.


DUI and Conservatorship

If you have a DWI or a DUI charge or conviction in the past, the judge will have to decide how much weight he will put on that as he makes the decision regarding your children’s conservatorship arrangement. There are also several factors that the judge will consider regarding this. For instance, if your DUI charge happened ages ago and it has never reoccurred after that, then there is a big chance that you will receive the standard conservatorship split in terms of possession, time, rights and duties. Unfortunately, if your DUI is pretty recent, the court might question your ability to manage your child safely and efficiently. The time and rights to your child that will be awarded to you could potentially be lower than that of the other parent.

In standard possession schedules, you should provide effective transportation for your child. With a DUI charge that happened recently, your driving privileges could be limited and your spouse could request the court to order an arrangement that is least favorable to you. The court could order a supervised visit arrangement for you since due to the DUI, you basically cannot be trusted to provide safe transportation for your child.


What You Can Do

In most cases, the court will restrict your possession rights that you should have with your child when you recently have a DUI charge. This is not a permanent conservatorship arrangement. After a certain period of time, if you do not show any behavior related to alcohol abuse and you do not drink and drive again, your time with your child will gradually increase. You will still be supervised by a visitation facility or your ex-spouse, however.

The court will also schedule you for periodic tests to make sure that your alcohol-drinking is being managed well. The best thing that you can do for yourself and your child is to avoid alcohol and to make sure that you do not drink and drive ever again.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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