New clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, are asked to fill out some paperwork to provide our attorneys with information about our new clients and their families. This questionnaire goes through some basics: your name, address, the names and ages of your children, and similar questions are asked of you. Providing us with this information allows our attorneys and staff to hit the ground running to start work on your case as soon as possible.
One area of our new client questionnaire that is somewhat more interesting, in my opinion, is one where we ask new clients about any skeletons in their closet. Basically, we want to know if there is anything out there that the opposing party may seek to use against you as far as evidence is concerned. Typically this section will remain blank, but every once in awhile, a client will share information potentially harmful to their case.
From my experience, the most frequently cited “skeleton” is an arrest for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. At the same time, the crime itself is something that bears its own consequences to you in terms of the law, a person’s decision to get behind the wheel and drive a car while intoxicated can have many further-reaching effects. If you have a DWI or DUI in the recent past, then you will want to stick around and read the remaining portions of this blog post on that very subject.
Substance Abuse and its potential impact on a family law case
Chances are you or someone you know battles a daily addiction to alcohol. Your children have either been raised in an environment in which they have been exposed to alcohol, or your need to drink has been exacerbated by the stress associated with the legal proceedings. Either way, if you have a history in which you’ve abused alcohol and the law has gotten involved, then the odds are good that this behavior will become a part of your divorce or child custody case.
The key aspect of this whole discussion for you as a parent to understand is that a DUI or DWI all comes down to your ability to make positive decisions for your child. Your child's safety is the most important thing for a court to consider when making decisions surrounding the living arrangements and care of your children. If your children are safe and are not being exposed to neglect or abuse of some sort, then you can do a lot worse as a parent.
Unfortunately, a decision to drink alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle makes it very difficult for you to argue that you present an exceptional often for a judge to consider awarding you more time or rights to your child. Consuming alcohol in any quantity affects your decision-making abilities. Abusing alcohol and driving a motor vehicle is a symptom of the larger flaw of alcohol abuse.
Parents in Family Law Cases share the responsibilities of raising a child.
Whether you are going through a divorce or child custody case, you need to be aware that what you will end up with at the end of your case is an arrangement in which you share the responsibilities of raising your child with your ex-spouse or your child’s other parent.
The standard by which a court will decide as far as custody is concerned is determining what will be in your child’s best interests. This is a purposefully vague and open-ended standard that allows your judge to make determinations on a fact-specific basis. Your home environment's consistency and safety are just one of the many factors that a judge will consider.
A conviction or charge for DWI or DUI can present a judge with the challenge of deciding how much weight to apply to this sort of behavior. If your DUI or DWI occurred many years ago, and you have no re-occurrence of having driven under the influence, your ability to have a more “standard” possession schedule and rights/duties split increases. However, if the judge notes that your DUI or DWI has occurred recently, then this would draw into serious question your ability to effectively and safely manage the affairs of your child.
Transporting your child is key to achieving a “normalized” possession schedule.
Parents often take for granted that to have a “standard” possession order with your child, you must be able to provide transportation. If you have a recent DUI or DWI and are not able to drive currently, then the opposing party in your case has a good chance to be able to lobby the court to order at least temporary supervised visits between you and your child. The reason is that a court will not trust that you can transport your child safely due to the recent occurrence of your alcohol-related crime.
What I have seen courts do, at least in temporary orders, is restrict the visitation and possession that you have with your child in the time period immediately following your DUI or DWI. As time progresses and you show no regression in terms of your drinking and driving, then you have the chance to gain more time with your child without being under the watchful eye of a supervised visitation facility or your ex-spouse. Another thing to be aware of is that courts will often order you to be alcohol tested periodically to intended that your drinking is being managed effectively.
Questions on DUI or DWIs and how they can affect your family law case? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you have any additional questions for one of our licensed family law attorneys, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. A free-of-charge consultation with one of the attorneys is only a phone call away and can provide you with peace of mind and answers to your questions.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Custody Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX child custody lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our child custody lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles child custody cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.