The family court, which is the venue for a divorce case, is very different from the typical trial court. For one thing, there is no jury to make the decisions. All issues in a divorce case are decided by the judge assigned, essentially a bench trial versus a jury trial. That means the aspects of the case are going to be entirely decided as they fit within the perspective of the judge’s interpretation of the law.
Additionally, someone who already has a conviction on file is not likely to be perceived as society’s most upstanding citizen by a judge. Inherently, a convicted person has been determined to have acted against society, the very concept that family court is designed to preserve and protect as defined by law. So that means the convicted party could have a perceptual disadvantage in front of the judge, including everything from an assumption of lying to being the perpetrator in a marriage gone bad.
The type of crime can have an influence on the divorce as well. A past conviction of a violent crime or domestic violence will likely influence the judge to be very restrictive of child custody or visitation rights, ensuring there’s some kind of monitoring versus independent custody being allowed. Fraud, white collar, or theft crimes have a negative connotation when it comes time to split assets, making the court suspicious of any argument or plan from the convicted party.
The timing of the conviction matters as well. If the conviction was fairly recent, i.e. the last few years, the court is likely going to favor the non-criminal party in a divorce. If the conviction was years in the past, this factor won’t be such a big consideration with most judges, increasing the chances of a fairer divorce outcome.
The last thing anyone with a past conviction should do is go into a Texas court alone. At least make sure to have a proper consultation with an experienced Texas divorce attorney who understands both the law and how the Texas family court tends to behave in such matters.
While officially once a person has paid their due for a conviction, the matter should be over, in reality it is still an influential matter anytime a person appears before the court, even in a divorce. Don’t let a family court proceeding be completely run unfairly without having proper representation on your side.