Under New Pennsylvania Laws: A DUI Conviction for Anyone in Your Home Can Affect Your Custody Rights
As I have often mentioned on this blog, the penalties for a Pennsylvania DUI are very severe and they last a lifetime. Unfortunately, these penalties are only getting more and more severe and have serious ramifications on other, seemingly unrelated aspects of a person’s life. Recent changes to Pennsylvania’s child custody laws have once again put these DUI penalties into the spotlight. Under the new laws, people with a prior DUI conviction will have that taken into consideration when determining child custody rights, even if the DUI had nothing to do with the child and even if it was many years ago. Even more absurdly, prior DUI convictions of anyone living in that home will also be taken into consideration:
At the end of January, new child custody laws went into effect in the commonwealth. The new custody laws had been considered in Harrisburg for more than 10 years and were finally signed into law by then-Gov. Ed Rendell at the end of last year.
These new custody laws govern all custody actions filed on or after Jan. 24. Custody actions filed before that date are still governed by the old laws.
There are at least four major changes to the custody laws that may affect you if you become involved in a custody action. First, the new law requires that, when a parent seeks custody of a child or children, the judge must determine if that parent, or anyone living in that parent’s household, has ever been convicted of one of a number of specific crimes listed in the new laws. Most importantly, DUI and possession of a controlled substance now are among the specific crimes listed.
The judge must decide if the parent with the conviction, or a person with the conviction who is living with the parent, poses a threat of harm to the child or children before making any custody order. These requirements are a significant change to Pennsylvania custody laws and must be considered before starting a custody action.
This is another example of the far-reaching effects of a DUI conviction and more reason to find a professional Pennsylvania DUI attorney to help clear your name and protect your rights.
If you have any questions about how a DUI may influence your custody rights, please call 1-866-MCSHANE.