What Happens If You're Charged With A DUI While Your Divorce Is Pending?

Divorce can be hard for every couple, even in situations where both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on most issues and are proceeding amicably. You may find yourself resorting to unhealthy habits once you and your partner have separated, and in some cases, even landing on the wrong side of the law. Being charged with a DUI while your divorce is pending can sometimes throw a major wrench into your case. Read on to learn more about some of the consequences that may await you if you're charged with a DUI during your divorce. 

How will a DUI affect your divorce proceedings? 

In most cases, a DUI will only have a direct impact on your divorce if you were involved in a property damage or injury accident that could draw additional civil liability (potentially putting marital assets at risk if a judgment is entered against you) or if you're seeking joint or sole custody of young children.

For example, if you and your spouse are still legally married at the time you're arrested for DUI and your DUI charging document includes allegations that you hit another vehicle, you could be on the hook not only for your legal fees and court costs, but the cost to repair the vehicle you struck and any medical expenses the driver may have suffered. Depending on your insurance limits and the amount you have available in liquid assets, a judgment against you could take a large bite out of your marital assets, potentially negatively impacting your spouse through no fault of his or her own. As a result, the divorce court may award your spouse a greater percentage of the marital pot than he or she would otherwise be entitled to receive.

And those with young children may find themselves facing a custody battle after a DUI arrest. This is even more true if your children will testify that you commonly drink in their presence or have driven them somewhere after drinking.  

Should you put your divorce on hold while your DUI is pending? 

In some cases, it can make sense to "slow-walk" your divorce proceedings to see what will result from your DUI prosecution. Doing so can ensure a more fair divorce settlement, particularly if you're found not guilty; instead of agreeing to non-primary custody or handing over a larger share of marital assets than you might otherwise be ordered to relinquish, you may be in a better position to negotiate your settlement once you know whether you'll be facing criminal or additional civil liability. To learn more, get in touch with a criminal defense attorney in your area.