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You can't afford it: How a DUI can affect a custody battle

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is a serious problem for anybody -- but the consequences of a charge or conviction for folks going through a custody battle can be especially dire.

In fact, as tempting as it might be to throw caution to the wind and blow off some steam during a pub crawl with your best friends during your divorce, you really can't afford to make the kind of mistake that ends in criminal charges. Here's why:

1. Criminal cases are expensive

More than likely, you'll have to turn to a separate lawyer to handle your criminal case -- which is an expense no one going through a custody battle needs. If you are lucky enough to have one attorney who can handle the job, there's still all the extra court fees.

2. You could lose your job

Depending on your profession, a drunk driving conviction could cost you your job. That could make it increasingly complicated for you to pay child support, manage your legal bills, fight for custody and start over. The pressure to find a new job won't be easy, either, with a conviction hanging over your head, and it won't be easy to claim you can support the kids without a job.

3. Your divorce could turn ugly

If your divorce was going along peacefully enough, don't count on it to stay that way after a DUI charge -- especially if you have kids. Your spouse may now believe that you can't be trusted with the children because of your perceived "problem with alcohol." That could turn what once was a cordial working relationship into an all-out war for custody.

4. You could face a loss of your rights

If your child is in the car when you're arrested for drunk driving, it probably won't take long for Child Protective Services to get involved. The kids could be removed from your care if they're deemed "at-risk" because of your behavior -- and that could sink any chance you have of retaining custody rights. You may only be allowed supervised visitation until the judge is convinced you don't pose a danger.

We know that the stress of a divorce and custody negotiations can be hard to handle. Take some of the pressure off your shoulders by working with an attorney you can rely on.

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