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The Impact of a DUI on a Child Custody and Divorce

A DUI charge is never easy to face, but it can feel even more stressful if it accompanies divorce and child custody proceedings. On top of your existing emotional and financial strains, a DUI creates the need for yet another attorney, mandatory court appearances, and potential jail time and fines.

If you are looking for another reason not to get behind the wheel after drinking, consider the many impacts a DUI charge and subsequent conviction may have on your divorce and child custody proceedings:

  1. DUIs are expensive charges to handle. Even if you are a first-time offender with a clean record, fighting the charges and/or handling the consequences of a conviction cost money. Attorney fees, court fees, probation fees, alcohol program fees, fines, bail, and other expenses add up quickly. When combined with the costs of getting a divorce, a DUI can put a strain on your accounts and impact your ability to pay divorce and related fees.
  2. They can affect your income level. For those who do not rely on driving in their professions, DUI proceedings take time away from working hours. Without exceptional benefits, the amount of time spent away from work can impact your income streams and ability to pay for divorce proceedings. For those who drive professionally, the effect of a DUI is often much more impactful. Commercial drivers can lose their licenses and their jobs after even one DUI charge.
  3. They can exacerbate already strained relationships. Getting a DUI is often an emotional experience for the individual and his or her family members. During a divorce, a DUI can shift amicable negotiations into a strong-willed fight. The emotional effects of a DUI can impact how spouses split assets, spousal support awards, and more.
  4. They can damage child custody cases. When courts evaluate child custody situations during divorce proceedings, they put the child’s welfare first. A DUI is an indicator of irresponsibility, recklessness, and poor judgment. It may give the court all the evidence needed to take away your custody rights. Not only will the court feel less inclined to honor your custody request, your spouse may also change his or her request from joint to sole custody as the result of a DUI charge or conviction. A DUI is not always a deal breaker in child custody battles, but it will always have a negative impact on the case.
  5. They can interfere with child visitation arrangements. Many drivers convicted of DUIs, especially reoffenders, temporarily or permanently lose their driving privileges. Without a license, some parents may not be able to visit and spend time with their children per visitation arrangements. An inability to travel can also affect custody arrangements. A court will evaluate a parent’s ability to transport the child to and from daily obligations during custody battles.

Under normal circumstances, a DUI disrupts daily life and will leave a black mark on your permanent record. During divorce proceedings, a DUI can have a ripple effect on every aspect of your life.

Divorce and custody battles are hard for anyone. Do not give your spouse a reason to make your life even harder. If abstaining is not an option, use rideshares, call a friend, or walk. Driving under the influence is not worth the risk. See our divorce FAQ’s for more information.

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