The cast of MTV’s Teen Mom franchise has had a rough time. Then again, without the drama, millions of viewers probably wouldn’t tune in every week. Teen Mom 2’s Jenelle Evans has been embroiled in a heated custody battle. At the same time, she had assault charges filed against her. It’s a saga truly worthy of reality TV, but it raises the question of how criminal charges impact child custody.
These assault charges hung over Jenelle Evans’ head for some time. They stem from an incident where she allegedly threw mason jar at the new girlfriend of Nathan Griffith, her ex and the father of her son, Kaiser. Griffith has his own sordid history with the law, including domestic abuse charges. The court ultimately found Evans not guilty, but the two continue to fight over custody. It remains to be seen if or how these criminal charges impact child custody in this situation.
When it comes to disputes over custody, the court places the best interests of the children above almost all other concerns. This includes parental preference and convenience. Given this stance, it’s easy to imagine how criminal charges impact child custody battles. If they come into play, they often have a substantial influence on the way cases unfold.
Related to the Case
If the police arrest one parent during a custody case, or has pending charges, numerous factors determine how much impact it has. It the crime in question directly relates to the child custody case, it understandably has more substantial consequences.
For example, if the police arrest your ex for an unrelated misdemeanor, something minor like shoplifting, the court may not consider it at all. Or at least it may not carry much weight. On the other hand, the more serious an offense, the greater impact criminal charges have on child custody.
This is especially true when an arrest directly connects to the child custody case. Such is the situation with the cast of Teen Mom 2. Jenelle Evans reportedly threw the jar at her ex’s new girlfriend while their son was present, during a custody exchange. As this explicitly involves the players in the case, this type of situation may influence the court’s decision.
Impacts Parenting Ability
Though charges may not directly relate to the situation, criminal charges impact child custody and may still affect the outcome. Since the child’s best interests are the primary concern, it’s possible to show that arrests or illegal actions negatively effect one parent’s ability to adequately care for the child.
Going back to the Teen Mom 2 drama, Nathan Griffith was accused of domestic abuse by a former girlfriend. Though this other person has no direct link to the dispute with Jenelle Evans, the court may take this into account.
Similarly, a drunk driving arrest may appear unrelated to parenting ability on the surface. But the court may view it as indicative of a larger pattern of behavior and poor decision making and think twice before ruling. As safety and well-being of any children are the chief concerns, courts don’t look kindly on actions and choices that place minors in harm’s way.
Repeat offenses increase how much the court weighs certain criminal charges impact child custody. Multiple DUI arrests may indicate a pattern. A history of violent arrests often leads the court to assume things about a parent. This can may lead to limited visitation or supervised custody. More arrests generally make it less likely the court rules in that parent’s favor.
Not All Criminal Charges Are The Same
Obviously, the courts don’t treat all criminal charges the same. Depending on the nature of the crime, it can have a huge impact on child custody. Conviction of certain felonies often leads to parents losing custodial rights. The list includes homicide, aggravated assault, stalking kidnapping, and more. Any crime that’s sexual in nature falls under this purview, as does anything that endangers children.
If such charges are levied against one parent, the other parent may file for a temporary custody order. Should the court determine that parent an immediate threat to a child’s safety, it may award emergency custody.
It can take weeks and months in many cases to get into court in most regular cases. If the court finds a child in “Immediate Danger,” it’s possible to receive an emergency custody order. Under Oregon law there are two statues for emergency custody:
- ORS 107.097: During a custody case, but before the court reaches a judgment, a judge may issue an ex parte temporary custody order. The requesting party must file an affidavit and the court must, based on the facts presented, determine the child is in imminent danger.
- ORS 107.139: After a custody decision, the court may also issue an ex parte emergency custody order. The non-custodial parent files an affidavit stating that the child is in danger and present “clear and convincing” evidence. Additionally, in situations where the court already awarded custody, the requesting parent needs to make a good faith effort to alert the other parent to time and reason for the court appearance.
These temporary orders aren’t exclusive to cases involving criminal charges. They often pop up when there’s substance abuse, emotional issues or mental illness, abuse, or other potentially hazardous circumstances.
How Much Do Criminal Charges Impact Child Custody?
When children are involved, emotions run high and things tend to get heated. Arrests and criminal proceedings only exacerbate these situations. Criminal charges impact child custody battles. How deeply varies from one situation to the next, but there is bound to be a significant effect.
If you have questions about a child custody case, feel free to contact Goldberg Jones at our Portland office.