How will my criminal record impact my ability to reconnect with my child or grandchild?

In any legal case involving children, a criminal record could, and often does, affect your ability to reconnect with a child or grandchild.

A judge making decisions about the care of a child will look at anything and everything about a child’s and the parents’ life that relates to the well-being of the child and who is best suited to care for and have a relationship with that child.[2321] This includes the judge looking at things like:

    Your FULL criminal record (including dismissed/expunged/sealed records);[2322]
    Your Child Protective Services (CPS) records;
    Current or past court orders;
    Current or past stay-away or protective orders against you (or that you took out against someone else); [2323]
    Social media like Facebook, Instagram accounts, etc. for any evidence about you as a person and parent;
    Your home and setup, in which Court investigators and sometimes attorneys and social workers will visit the place you live to assess you, your interactions with your child and other people in your home; and your overall living situation;[2324] and
    Your past and current contact with your child.

Even though your record will come up in court, it is often STILL POSSIBLE to reconnect with your child or grandchild.

  1. 2321

    Cal. Fam. Code § 3011 (A court will look at a parent’s criminal record “among any other factors it finds relevant” when making a decision about who cares for a child.); Cal. Penal Code § 11105 (b)(1).

  2. 2322

    See Cal. Fam. Code § 3040 et seq. Please note that your full criminal record includes arrests that did not lead to convictions. See the Understanding and Cleaning Up Your Criminal Record Chapter on PG. 1022 for more information.

  3. 2323

    Cal. Penal Code § 11105(a).

  4. 2324

    Cal. Fam. Code § 3011 (In making a determination on what is the “best interests of a child,” the court can consider any “relevant” factors. The court must looks to all the circumstances bearing on the best interests of the minor child.”).