How Can a DWI Conviction Impact Your Ability to Get Custody In Texas?

How a DWI Can Affect Your Custody Case

If you’ve recently found yourself in a position you never imagined — discussing the division of assets, debts, and even your children — you may be wondering what you can do to preserve your ability to see your children on a regular basis after you and your spouse are no longer together. These worries can be exacerbated if you’re dealing with a DWI conviction in your past, and competing for custody with someone who has a clean criminal record. The affect of a DWI conviction on your custodial rights (or a custody modification) can be more than most people think.

What affect can a DWI conviction have if you’re fighting for custody during a divorce?

Whether you’re seeking joint or sole custody for the first time or are seeking to modify an existing visitation arrangement, you’ll be expected to demonstrate to a judge why granting custody or visitation to you is in your child’s best interest. Like other criminal convictions, a DWI can be a black mark against your character, and a recent DWI (or multiple convictions) can indicate a substance abuse problem that may also impact your perceived ability to care for your child. In addition, those whose driver’s license has been suspended (or permanently revoked) because of multiple DWI convictions can face an uphill battle when it comes to joint visitation; judges are often reluctant to place all the responsibility of visitation transportation on one parent.

However, the news isn’t all bad for those who have a DWI conviction. Because Texas treats conservatorship (often termed “custody” in other states) differently and separately from visitation, it’s possible to have visitation (and a regular physical connection with your child) even if your spouse is awarded sole conservatorship. The important thing is to be able to show that the circumstances leading up to your DWI conviction have changed and that you’re committed to remaining sober and being the best possible parent to your child.

What should you do if you’re concerned about the impact of your DWI convictions on a custody matter? 

There’s an additional wrinkle for those who were convicted of one or more DWIs in northern Texas, as it was recently discovered that a single lab worker may have mixed up multiple blood samples before or after testing, potentially leading to wrongful convictions (as well as mistaken exonerations) for thousands whose blood samples were processed there. You might also find out that the breath test you were given was faulty, inaccurate, or otherwise invalid. If your conviction falls within the time period at issue and there’s a chance your blood sample could have been processed at this facility, you may want to see whether you can have your final custody hearing postponed until you can determine the likelihood of your DWI conviction being vacated or overturned.

This unusual situation, along with other unique points of Texas law, is why it’s crucial to consult an experienced attorney who is familiar with the nuances that drunk driving charges cause during custody cases in Texas.