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Can I Lose Custody of my Children if I Get a DUI?


Parents are often surprised when they find out their child custody situation is not permanently fixed. As long as you share custody with your ex-spouse or partner, your child’s custody situation will remain fluid. The judge will sign off on your parenting plan and enter official custody arrangements into the court record, but circumstances could require your custody order to be revisited. There are instances where a parent may be granted custody only to have it taken away. Many situations could lead to your custody order being reexamined. Certain situations and legal trouble require the court to question your ability to provide a safe and secure environment for your child. Additionally, your co-parenting partner can decide a legal infraction requires a modification to your custody arrangement.

Criminal Offenses and Custodial Rights

If a judge receives information that causes the court to believe your child is exposed to abusive situations or an environment filled with conflict, the parent at the center of the behavior could be at risk of losing custody. Abuse is just one of several situations that could lead to custody loss. Pennsylvania family courts want to ensure children are being raised in stable homes. Any situation that suggests a home is no longer safe and secure will be a cause for concern. Some common examples where the court is often required to make these determinations concern mental health issues that lead to extreme depression and emotional instability. Parenting can be an overwhelming responsibility, and if a parent is in crisis, they may not be able to create a stable home in which to raise minor children. Another common example before the court involves alcohol and drug abuse issues. Drug addiction and alcoholism can lead to neglect, and if the court is presented with instances of child endangerment due to drug or alcohol abuse, custody could be rescinded.

§5329. Consideration of criminal conviction (a) Offenses – Where a party seeks any form of custody, the court shall consider whether that party or member of that party's household has been convicted of or has pleaded guilty or no contest to any of the offenses in this section or an offense in another jurisdiction substantially equivalent to any of the offenses in this section. The court shall consider such conduct and determine that the party does not pose a threat of harm to the child before making any order of custody to that party when considering the following offenses:

  • 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 25 (relating to criminal homicide)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702 (relating to aggravated assault)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 2706 (relating to terroristic threats)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 2709.1 (relating to stalking)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 2901 (relating to kidnapping)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 2902 (relating to unlawful restraint)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 2903 (relating to false imprisonment)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 2910 (relating to luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 3121 (relating to rape)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 3126 (relating to indecent assault)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 3127 (relating to indecent exposure)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 3129 (relating to sexual intercourse with an animal)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 3130 (relating to conduct relating to sex offenders)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 3301 (relating to arson and related offenses)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 4302 (relating to incest)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 4303 (relating to concealing the death of a child)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 4304 (relating to endangering the welfare of children)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 4305 (relating to dealing in infant children)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 5902(b) (relating to prostitution and related offenses)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 5903(c) or (d) (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 6301 (relating to corruption of minors)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 6312 (relating to sexual abuse of children)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 6318 (relating to unlawful contact with a minor)
  • 18 Pa.C.S. § 6320 (relating to sexual exploitation of children)
  • Section 6114 (relating to contempt for violation of order or agreement).
  • The former 75 Pa.C.S. § 3731 (relating to driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance).
  • 75 Pa.C.S. Ch. 38 (relating to driving after imbibing alcohol or utilizing drugs).
  • Section 13(a)(1) of the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act, to the extent that it prohibits the manufacture, sale or delivery, holding, offering for sale or possession of any controlled substance or other drug or device.

Compassionate Legal Representation

If a judge decides you should lose custody of your child, it will be important to create a strong case for why you should regain your custody rights. It could be difficult to reestablish custody once it’s been removed. Typically, parenting concerns and issues are presented to the court by your ex-partner seeking a modification. The divorce and child custody lawyers at William Kirby Law are understanding and considerate attorneys who can help you work through the details of your case. Call us at (215) 515-9901 to schedule a consultation.