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Can a DUI conviction cause me to lose joint custody of my kids?

If you receive a conviction for driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances, it can have far-reaching consequences in every aspect of your life, from loss of employment and scholarships to having to pay heavy fines and even jail time. But if you currently share custody of your children with your ex-spouse, can your DUI conviction be enough to get the court to take custody away from you?

Kentucky DUI laws

Kentucky law punishes driving while under the influence of intoxicating substances very seriously. On the very first offense, the court can suspend your drivers’ license for up to six months and make you attend an Alcohol or Substance Abuse Program. The penalties become significantly more severe for second, third or fourth offenses.

If your conviction includes a penalty of having to serve time in prison, then it is very likely that a judge would take away custody of your children. When you get out of prison, you might be able to hire an attorney and petition the court to restore your prior custody status.

The best interest of the child standard

If your conviction does not include jail time as a punishment, you still might lose custody. The court’s decision will depend upon a number of factors, including the severity of the offense and your personal circumstances.

Kentucky courts always use the “best interest of the child” standard when making child custody decisions. This means that the court will do whatever will be best for the child in the moment, including modifying a custody order that they perceive to be no longer good for the child.

In making the decision, the court will likely look at factors such as whether your children were in the car with you at the time of your arrest or whether the DUI conviction will impair your ability to provide for them. If the conviction doesn’t have a significant impact on your ability to provide a safe and healthy environment for your children, then it’s possible that you will be able to keep your current custody arrangement as it is now.

Child custody is an emotionally charged topic, and it is heartbreaking when a court takes it away from someone. Thankfully, a DUI conviction doesn’t necessarily mean that your custody agreement will be modified.