How Pending Criminal Charges Impact Your Divorce Case

Photo of handcuffs with fingerprints report in the background You have chosen to part ways with your spouse, and you can’t help but to feel a sense of relief in the middle of your divorce-fueled emotional whirlwind. Unfortunately, figuring out how to navigate your divorce isn’t your only problem right now, as either you or your soon-to-be-ex is now also facing a criminal charge on top of facing a marital breakup. Pending criminal charges can have a major impact on your divorce case, and that’s true no matter which party is the one facing the criminal charges. It’s also especially true if you and your spouse are parents to minor children, as pending criminal charges affect child custody and visitation matters.  Here is an overview of what a pending criminal charge is and how criminal legal matters will affect your ongoing divorce case.

Pending or Existing Criminal Charges During Divorce Proceedings

A pending criminal charge is a charge you may face if a prosecutor is currently deciding whether to charge you as is, reduce your charge, or add extra charges. Of course, the prosecutor could also decide to discard the allegation. When you’re navigating divorce, you could face charges that are either related to your divorce case or having nothing to do with it. Examples of charges that are unrelated to your divorce include the misdemeanor of shoplifting, which the divorce case might not consider at all or give much weight. On the contrary, more serious offenses can have a major impact on your divorce case, particularly if the pending criminal charges are directly connected to your child custody and visitation case. For instance, current or past charges of aggravated assault, homicide, kidnapping, or stalking can be grounds for the defendant losing custodial rights. The same is true if you or the other party is charged with a sexual crime, with child endangerment, or with drug- or alcohol-related offenses.  Divorce courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody decisions. If you can demonstrate that the other parent’s illegal actions adversely impact his or her ability to care for your children safely, then the other party may end up being denied child custody.

Considerations When Facing Pending Criminal Charges During Divorce

Police car with lights on at night on a city streetIf your future ex-spouse is facing charges, you will likely have to decide how to deal with his or her criminal defense lawyer retainer and bail money. Depending on the relationship you have with the other party, you might feel inclined to help him or her so that he or she can keep supporting the family while you navigate your divorce. Or, you may object to paying for criminal defense attorney costs and bail using marital funds. A criminal law and divorce attorney can advise you on the best move to make given your particular situation. Also, if you’re the one who is facing a criminal allegation, it would be advantageous to hire a family lawyer who also possesses criminal law experience. This will help with streamlining the processes you use to resolve both cases, thus saving you time, money, and the hassle of having two different attorneys being on two separate pages when trying to address your situation. 

How Pending Criminal Charges Might Affect You Long After Your Divorce

If your future ex-spouse ends up being convicted on serious pending criminal charges with child custody issues mounting, it may be in your interest to terminate his or her parental rights during the divorce process. This is particularly true if you think you may remarry another person who would like to adopt your children. The reason for this is that being convicted on serious charges may come with a prison sentence, in which case the other party won’t be in a position to be given custody of your children. On the contrary, if the other parent’s jail time happens to be brief following a criminal conviction, this person may still have the ability to see your children. However, his or her visitation with the children will most likely be supervised, depending on the terms of their parole and release. Also, once this person is released from jail, the divorce court might order him or her to search for work and begin paying back child support as well as meet his or her current child support obligations.  A family law attorney who is well versed in criminal law can help you to pursue the best child custody situation for both you and your children given the criminal charges impacting your case. Likewise, an attorney can make sure that your rights and best interests are protected when it comes to dealing with child support in such a case, whether you will be the recipient or the payer.

Experience Criminal and Divorce Law Expertise with Michael C. MacNeil

Having to juggle the legal and emotional challenges of pending criminal charges and divorce at the same time can no doubt be overwhelming. Fortunately, my experience in trial cases for both family law and criminal legal matters ensure I am equipped to handle both of your cases. I take pride in always putting my clients first and personally attending to them. As a result, you can expect high-quality legal representation from the start when you work with me. You also won’t have to worry about falling prey to bureaucratic tricks in the legal field, as well. Contact me for a free consultation so that I can go over your divorce and/or criminal situation with you and help you to obtain the results you’re looking for.

Please call or contact our office online to arrange for an appointment about your case today.

About Michael MacNeil

Michael C. MacNeil is a San Diego Family Law and Criminal Defense attorney. With a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law, MacNeil has a solid understanding of our justice system. As a member of the State Bar of California, MacNeal can practice before all courts in the state. MacNeil believes that the law should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial status. With over 20 years of experience, Michael C. MacNeil is passionate about the law and will work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome for you. Call Mr. MacNeil at 858-922-7098.