A divorce is often one of the most difficult transitions a person will experience. Even if everything else in life is going right, a separation presents some real challenges. When a criminal case is occurring at the same time, the situation can quickly become overwhelming.

But how might a criminal matter actually impact divorce proceedings?

The potential short-term impacts

It is not a given that criminal charges will affect what happens in a divorce. There are many situations in which both processes play out separately, without any direct impact on each other. However, that is not always the case.

In situations involving a domestic issue, it is possible for a protective order to immediately limit one individual’s access to the other spouse and/or their children. The party who is not accused of a crime may also be awarded temporary custody, child support or spousal support at the outset of the case.

These types of criminal case situations can immediately change the dynamics of the divorce proceedings.

Considering long-term impacts

The effects of a criminal case can linger long after the divorce is finalized.

When approving child custody and visitation arrangements, the court prioritizes the best interests of the child. If a judge believes one parent may not be able to care for the child – emotionally, financially or physically – that will likely be a factor in the final parenting arrangement.

The impacts of a criminal case can also ripple outward. A conviction, for example, may result in jail time and job loss. This can affect a person’s finances, which in turn limits their ability to pay child support or spousal support, potentially resulting in further legal complications.

Divorce is complex. Criminal matters are complex. For anyone in a situation where these cases intersect, it is important to explore the potential impact – if any – and prepare accordingly. By addressing these questions head-on, you can better set yourself up for the long run.