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DUIs and Child Custody: Can they Impact One Another?


Securing your child’s custody can be a stressful experience. It becomes more worrying if you have a  DUI (driving under the influence) record. Many parents do not seem to know if there is a direct impact between having a DUI and child custody. This article seeks to inform parents about the relationship between DUI and child custody.

What is DUI?

DUI stands for driving under the influence. This means the person driving was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a DUI lawsuit is filed against you, it could mean serious consequences ranging from heavy fines to suspension of license. Some factors that can increase the extent of the punishment of a DUI lawsuit are how fast you were compared to the legal limit and if you had children in the car.

What is Child Custody?

Child custody is a legal term used in court for when a parent has been given the right to live with the children. When a parent has custody, it means the parent has the power to make decisions for their child. During divorces, courts usually decide who gets child custody between the parents. It is the job of child custody lawyers to provide evidence to prove that their client is the best parent to be granted child custody. he.

What is Child Support?

Child support is the financial support that a parent is required to pay for their child or children. This amount is decided based on food expenses, clothing, and housing. Child support is determined through a court process and parents hire child custody lawyers to represent them in court. These attorneys provide evidence such as the financial capacity of the family and the possible expenses for the children. This evidence is used to determine who gets to pay child support.

Types of Child Custody

Now that we know what child custody is about, we can now discuss the various types of child custody.

1.   Legal Custody

This involves the right of a parent to make important decisions about the welfare of a child. Some of those decisions can be about healthcare and education. When parents are going through a divorce or separation, the court usually decides who gets legal custody. It can award it to one or both parents. The decision to award legal custody is usually done with the best interests of the child in mind. A full custody lawyer can assist in claiming sole custody in such cases.

2.   Physical Custody

It involves the living arrangement for a child and who is responsible for caring for the child on a daily basis. When parents are going through a divorce or separation, the court usually awards physical custody to one of the parents or both of them. When it is joint custody, it means the child spends their time between both homes of the parents. Some factors taken into consideration when deciding who gets physical custody are the parent’s ability to have a stable home environment and the child’s relationship with the parent.

How do DUIs and Child Custody Impact one Another

DUIs have serious consequences and some of those consequences can have serious implications in child custody cases. The relationship between child custody and DUIs are explored below.

1.   DUIs and Legal Custody

A DUI conviction does not have enough grounds to remove parents from legal custody. However,  DUI is taken into consideration when decisions are made in court. DUIs are usually used by child custody lawyers to favor their clients in court. They do this by providing DUIs as evidence of the other partner’s inability to make good decisions. The court can decide that someone with multiple DUIs has a poor sense of judgement and can have the parent’s legal custody stripped from them.

2.   DUIs and Physical Custody

DUIs are more likely to affect the physical custody of children than legal custody. This is because DUIs can be used in divorce cases as grounds to question the parent’s character in child raising. It becomes more serious if it can be proved that the DUI case put the child in danger. For example, a drunk driver caught with children in the car will have a tough time defending themselves in court when it comes to their ability to act as parents. Furthermore, the more DUI cases a parent has, the less chance the parent has of retaining physical custody of the children. One reason for this is that a pattern will be formed in court that will make the parent seem unfit due to bad drinking habits.

3.   DUIs and Child Protection Services

A DUI conviction can lead to the involvement of child protection services. For instance, If a child was in the car at the time of the DUI, then child protection services will need to investigate the case. Another case could be if the DUI happened when the parent was supposed to care for the child. Subsequently, child protection services will decide if the child is at risk of harm after investigation. As a result, the parent may lose child custody temporarily or permanently.

4.   DUIs and Divorce Cases

A DUI case can be used by the opposing party in a divorce or separation as leverage for child custody in court. The child custody lawyers will try to prove that the DUI conviction puts the child in danger so as to secure child custody for their clients. If your DUI case happened after divorce, there may be serious consequences. This creates the need to defend oneself against criminal charges as well as protect one’s parental rights. Hiring an experienced lawyer is a good way to solve this problem as they would ensure your family life is not disrupted.


In brief, DUIs can have a notable impact on child custody. It can raise concerns about a parent’s ability to create a safe environment to raise a child. It can also affect the ability of parents to maintain their driver’s licenses. Therefore, Parents should be aware of DUI convictions not only for themselves but also for the future of their children.

Frequently Asked Questions

The questions below cover questions about DUIs and child custody

1.   How much does a DUI cost?

The cost of DUIs can vary from state to state. A first-time offense is usually filed as a misdemeanor. On average the cost of a DUI conviction is  $150 – $1800.

2.     What makes a Parent unfit for Custody?

In legal terms, an unfit parent is a parent who is unable to provide proper guidance, support, and care for their child. Usually, if there is neglect from the parent or substance issues, the parent is seen as unfit.

3.   Am I liable if My Spouse gets a DUI?

Yes, you can be held liable. It is called negligent entrustment. You can be held responsible if an accident or harm occurs as a result of your drunk-driving spouse.

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