dui child custody new jersey

A divorce can take a toll on both spouses mentally, emotionally and financially, especially when it involves the couple’s children. Rather foolishly, you decided to cope with the stress by imbibing alcohol or another controlled substance and getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, after which Garden State law enforcement pulled you over. In addition to the penalties assorted with a DUI in New Jersey, your arrest could impact the outcome of your child custody proceedings. For more information, please continue reading, then contact one of our experienced Monmouth County child custody attorneys today.

What effects does a DUI have on child custody in New Jersey?

Well, it should go without saying that the family court places the child’s well-being and best interests above all other considerations in any divorce proceeding and child custody case. In light of that, a conviction for DUI will most likely have a large, adverse impact on your chances of obtaining joint legal and physical custody. Because it wants to protect the child’s safety and well-being, the family court has a greater likelihood of granting primary custody to the parent not considered to have a drinking or substance abuse problem.

Can your ex use a DUI against you in a child custody dispute in New Jersey?

Whether or not your ex wants to use a DUI against you, the family court can use it as a justification for limiting your physical custody, ordering supervision for your visitations or terminating your parental rights. However, your DUI may have a less significant impact on your legal custody. Just because your physical presence may present a danger to your child does not mean that the family court will bar you from major decision-making responsibilities affecting the child, including:

  • Religious education
  • Choice of schools
  • Tutoring
  • Cultural education
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Health care
  • And other matters pertaining to the child’s upbringing

Will an NJ court terminate my legal custody rights?

Even where one parent receives majority physical custody, Garden State courts prefer to award joint legal custody, because they believe it serves the best interests of the child. Nonetheless, you should not take this preference for granted. Instead, you should speak with one of our skilled Monmouth County family law attorneys as soon as possible.

How can a Monmouth County family law attorney help me maintain child custody after a DUI?

Among other defenses, your attorney could argue that:

  • In the long term, a change in child custody would not serve the child’s best interests
  • Your DUI does not reflect a deeper issue and, thus, does not pose an ongoing risk to the child’s safety and well-being, and/or
  • The child was not present during the DUI offense and, therefore, it should not reflect child custody

Our firm is here to help you, so give us a call today.


If you require strong legal representation for matters of divorce and family law in Rumson, Monmouth County, or anywhere in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Paone, Zaleski & Murphy to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.