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How might a DUI charge affect child custody talks?

Going through a divorce is stressful enough. Now you have a DUI charge to contend with, and one of the top things on your mind might be whether you need to disclose the charge to your co-parent and how it could affect custody talks and parenting plans.

First things first: Yes, you should disclose the charge. If you have been communicating primarily with your co-parent through attorneys, let that pattern continue. If you and your co-parent are handling almost everything yourselves, wait to disclose the information at an emotionally neutral time and when there is time for questions and discussions. Consider making the disclosure at a mediation session or counseling appointment.

Your history matters

The charge by itself might not matter as much as what precedes it. For example, if you have a history of DUI convictions or of drinking and driving, yet another charge could be extremely problematic. On the other hand, if it is your first charge, you have more credibility when talking about why it should not stick or what you will do differently next time.

The circumstances surrounding the charge

Also important are the circumstances under which you were arrested. It could be a big issue if you were arrested with your children in the car or while they were staying with you. Your BAC also matters; a higher BAC is more problematic than one that registered at, say, 0.08. Always be careful about what you say to the police, and remember you have the right to remain silent.

The solution

It helps to have a solution that explains how you will cope in the short term and the long term. Short term, you may be dealing with a driver's license suspension while you fight the charge. How will you help transport your kids? What if you lose your license?

Long term, you should be able to explain how to prevent being arrested in the future on DUI charges. For example, even if you are contesting the charge, you can promise your co-parent you will always take a taxi home from the bar from now on.

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