Skip to Main Content

Will a DWI Affect Your Child Custody?

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, over 82,000 DWI charges were brought in 2022. Some of those arrested even had their children in the car at the time. If you are in the midst of a custody fight, you might wonder how a DWI will affect your case. The answer is not encouraging. A DWI absolutely will play a role in your case, but the degree will depend on your choice of lawyer and actions you take.

Contact The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates. A League City child custody and visitation lawyer can review your case. Our firm has an outstanding reputation in both family law and DWI defense.

How a DWI Negatively Impacts Your Child Custody Case

Some parents find themselves in a child custody fight. If so, then you are waiting for a judge to decide custody because you and your ex can’t agree between yourselves. When it comes to a judge analyzing this issue, they are guided by state law, which requires consideration of many factors:

  • The child’s wishes
  • The child’s emotional and physical needs
  • What programs are available to help parents promote the child’s best interests
  • Each parent’s abilities
  • The stability of a parent’s home
  • A parent’s plans for a child
  • Whether a child is in emotional or physical danger
  • Anything which suggests a parent’s relationship with a child is improper

A DWI absolutely impacts how a judge will view your case. Because of the arrest, a judge could have questions about:

  1. You have terrible judgment. Can you keep children safe or are you a danger to their physical health? If you were caught with a child in the vehicle, then you look like a safety risk.
  2. You are dependent on alcohol. Alcoholism will negatively impact children. An alcoholic parent is more likely to struggle to stay employed and out of jail. A DWI arrest certainly raises suspicions. And if this is your second or subsequent DWI, then a judge might assume you are an alcoholic.
  3. You have a drug addiction. A drugged driving DWI is just as bad. Judges probably do not think a parent who does drugs is appropriate.
  4. You won’t follow a parenting plan. Judges are always looking to see that parents are responsible and will stick to any parenting plan.   

These are only some of the negative assumptions judges will have about your ability to parent.

Out of State DWIs Matter, Too

Don’t assume that a judge won’t find out about a DWI in California or Oklahoma (or any other state). Any DWI will impact your family law case, even one from decades ago. Of course, the older the DWI, then the less impact it will have. If you made a simple mistake 10 years ago, then a judge will consider that fact. But any recent DWI, even one outside Texas, will have an impact.

Can You Respond?

Getting arrested for DWI is not the end of your child custody case. Parents can take charge and mitigate any negative effects.

For example, you might:

  • Be upfront with your lawyer. Don’t hide the DWI.
  • Enter a treatment program. This shows you are taking any addiction seriously and committing to change. Successfully completing a treatment program goes a long way to mitigating the effect of the DWI.
  • Finish alcohol education programs or counseling. The state will likely offer these during your DWI case. You should complete them without complaint.
  • Avoid any future arrest. It is critical to keep your nose clean during your divorce. Don’t get picked up for anything else, not even reckless driving. As mentioned above, a second alcohol-related offense would be devastating.
  • Maintain employment. You want to appear as stable as possible for a judge while your case is in court. That means continuing with your job. If you’re in school, continue to attend.
  • Stick to temporary custody orders. While a divorce is working its way through court, a judge will likely set temporary custody orders. They last only for the duration of the divorce. However, they also serve as a “trial run” for judges, who get a sneak peek at how well you can follow a parenting plan. Always have your child ready for a hand-off to the other parent, and never miss time with your children.

Contact Our League City Child Custody Lawyer Today

Child custody disputes are stressful, and parents with a criminal history face an uphill climb to obtain custody. Hire a seasoned advocate to represent you in court. Call Tad Nelson & Associates today.