This advice is good for both historical information and for current events.  You may know that your ex-spouse has had a criminal past and be able to prove it rather readily.  However, depending upon how much time has passed, it may not matter one bit in a current child custody matter.  After all, it’s only fair that if someone has paid their penalty and conducted themselves lawfully, they be treated fairly in all aspects of life.  But, what if you’re curious about how they’ve been conducting themselves since the divorce?  Maybe you’re concerned about their parenting ability and their ability to keep a safe, healthy home when they have the children and you suspect something may be amiss.  Maybe you’ve heard that they’ve been arrested or convicted of a DUI.  Well, there is no reason why you cannot conduct the occasional “background check” of your ex-spouse to make sure they’re not putting themselves or the children in potential danger.

A criminal history is likely only going to impact a child custody case if the matter is current, relevant to parenting ability, and serious enough to influence the outcome of the child custody proceedings.  Hopefully, it’s obvious enough to understand that not ever criminal conviction makes one a “bad parent.”  However, if there is an established pattern of criminal behavior or an offense involves violence or another serious matter, that can change things.

This brings us to the words you’ve probably seen frequently throughout our articles: objective evidence.  Mere accusations aren’t (always) enough in family court.  Objective evidence goes a long way to creating a firm foundation upon which to build a ruling for child custody.  Arrest records, trial transcripts, conviction records, and the like are all pieces of objective evidence that take your mere allegation to unequivocal truth.

Most criminal complaints and records of same are a matter of public record.  Here is a list of common criminal records:

  • Police reports.
  • Complaint records.
  • Arrest records.
  • Warrants.
  • Trial transcripts and final disposition.
  • Department of Motor Vehicle records.

And, of course, here is a list of both conventional and unconventional places and means to obtain those types of records in no particular order:

  • Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Police department where the offense was committed.
  • Hire a private investigator to do the legwork for you.
  • Your local courthouse (or courthouse where the proceedings were heard).  Most have these records right online.
  • Online websites where you can pay a fee for background check information.

Much of his documentation will reveal the nature of the infraction, including the statute/law violated by penal code, and the circumstances surround their arrest or traffic stop.  The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for prosecuting the complaint.  Warrants are issued for arrest, bench warrants for failure to appear.

Appropriately prepared with your objective evidence and proper testimony, you can make a case to the judge as to why future problems with a standard parenting plan or child custody order can be expected.   Be sure to use these same investigative techniques if your ex-partner has a new roommate, romantic interest, significant other.  You’re entitled to know the criminal history (if there is any) of anyone who will be spending any appreciable time around your children.  Don’t forget, so does your ex, so keep your proverbial “house” clean, too!