What Happens When Family Law Overlaps With Criminal Matters?

One of the more worrisome aspects of family law is that some cases can have a criminal component. This can leave clients feeling worried and wondering how much a family lawyer can help them to get a situation under control. Let's look at some of the issues that come up when criminal and family law meet.

Common Situations

There are two main types of cases where family and criminal legal matters might overlap. First, there is parental kidnapping. This can arise when someone has legal custody but holds onto a child, or it can happen when a non-custodial parent takes the kid. Secondly, abuse of partners or children can lead to criminal charges.

Two Tracks

It's important to understand that the family court system will not adjudicate the criminal side of the case. Your family lawyer might, for example, be able to help you seek a modification of a custody order to prevent an abusive partner from having unaccompanied time with the child. The matter of the abuse allegations, though, will be handled separately in a criminal case.

If You're the Accused

Regardless of how you feel about the claims being made, the first order of business is to minimize the potential damage. Do not engage in any unnecessary conversations or interactions with anyone who is making accusations. All legal matters should be referred to your attorney. If people insist on pushing the issue, make a note of when they contacted you so this information can be presented in court.

If You're the Victim

Victims should follow a similar strategy. Getting into it with an ex, for example, is only going to look bad when you go to court. If criminal charges are pending against them, let that process play out. If there is a pressing issue, such as physical abuse, you can ask the court to enter a temporary order. This will limit the other party's contact with you. If something like child custody is involved, the court can order that a police officer or a child welfare worker should be present during visitation.

Document, Document, and Document Some More

The worst problem on the family law side of the ledger is going into court without evidence. If the police responded to an abuse complaint, for example, make sure you get the officers' names and which barracks they operate from. Ask for a copy of their report, too. Hand copies of evidence to your family lawyer and let them present the case for why intervention is necessary.

For more information, reach out to a local family lawyer.