Your Past Is Relevant in a Court of Law
Video Transcribed: What is relevant in family court proceedings involving children? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am a Tulsa father’s rights attorney with dads.law where fathers are not disposable. I want to talk to you a little bit about what is relevant in family court proceedings in Tulsa involving your children.
Well, the short answer is many things, not everything but many things. Anytime you’re dealing with a child custody matter, the primary consideration is always, always, always going to be in the best interest.
The best interest is a pretty broadcasting net as far as what types of things can be considered for best interest. Some examples I can tell you I have seen considered for best interest include obviously drinking habits, use of other substances, marijuana use specifically.
Even though it’s legal under state law if you have the card, it is still something that the family court can consider. Lifestyle choices, who you date, who you bring around the children, your living circumstances, what kind of home do you live in, do you have enough bedrooms, the vehicle you drive. That actually came up in a case I have been working on recently involving a vehicle and one side’s complaint about the other side’s choice of transportation.
Do you smoke tobacco? Do you smoke tobacco around the kids? Gambling, how you spend your money, how much time you spend in front of video games. This has come up several times in cases I worked on. You wouldn’t think video games would be a big deal, but people bring it up.
How you keep house, do you keep house, how you feed the kids, obviously do you feed the kids, what your physical health is like, what your mental health is like, are you on psychiatric medication, are you compliant with your treatment.
Also, there are age-specific factors. If you’re dealing with younger children, the court’s going to want to know that you know how to do basic things like change a diaper, prepare a bottle, things like that because obviously if you’re going to care for an infant, you need to know these things. Your temperament is going to be considered. Family members if you’re going to bring them around are going to be a factor. It’s a really broad net.
Now, some things that are … Obviously criminal history although criminal history is an interesting wrinkle because to some extent if you’re talking about real old criminal history and its misdemeanors, then it comes to a point where it no longer becomes relevant, but yes, criminal history is relevant. In fact, even if you have an expunged charge if the person wants to bring up if the other party wants to bring up the underlying facts that led to that expunged charge …
For example, let’s say that you get popped for DUI and you get a deferral and you’re successful in your deferral and it’s expunged, you’re in the clear, right? Maybe. Can they use the criminal record? No. Can they ask you about the underlying facts that led to you getting arrested and charged? Absolutely. Can they bring the cop that arrested you in as a witness? Absolutely. So yeah, it could still come up.
Any kind of felonies, definitely relevant. If you hang around with anybody, like you got a new girlfriend that has a couple of felonies in their past, that’s relevant. Things that are not generally relevant, obviously any kind of a suspect classification such as race, gender.
The courts aren’t supposed to favor one gender over the other as an official matter, although many of us know that that’s not always the experience we have as men. They’re not supposed to consider your sexuality. That would be covered under Romer v. Evans. These are things they are not supposed to consider.
Disability status they can consider to the extent it affects your ability to care for children and certainly as I’ve mentioned earlier if you have a mental health history and either it’s not well-managed or you’re non-compliant with treatment or it’s anything that would cause you to be an immediate threat to children, then yeah, that is relevant and it will be considered and will count against you.