Crime Pays…At least knowledge about crime pays off in a child custody case.
Let’s say you’re the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent wants to move with the child from her safe, quiet suburban town to the nearest big city, in order to be closer to her job. She claims that by cutting down on the daily commute from the suburbs, she can provide better care to the child before and after school. She also claims that the big city offers all of the conveniences of a bustling metropolis, including many cultural attractions such as museums that may prove educational to the child.
But wait! The big city also has big crime problems too. And sometimes, in a child custody case, the way to gain the upper hand is to demonstrate that the move to another location may increase the risk of danger to the child. Health and safety concerns impact upon the “best interests” of the child. A crime-ridden city may pose a danger to a young child who walks to school, plays outside or boards public transportation.
For example, consider a move from Boulder, Colorado to Denver, Colorado. Between 2008 and 2009, the number of rapes in Boulder dropped from 40 to 32, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. Yet, in Denver during the same time period, the number leaped from 282 to 337. In Georgia, violent crimes in 2009 topped 6,300 in Atlanta alone, but in Athens (Clarke County), Georgia, the total was just 472.
Of course, crime statistics are tricky. They vary based on population, on levels of police activity and differences in reporting methods. Still, crime rates often provide a useful piece of evidence in a child custody trial. They can be used to persuade a judge that relocating the child to a crime-laden environment is not in his best interests — even if it would lessen the custodial parent’s commuting time to and from work.
Has anybody actually been involved in a situation in which the other parent exposed the child to dangerous criminal elements?