Getting divorced is tough, but having to deal with substance abuse and child custody issues on top of it can make it even harder.
When parents are unable to reach an agreement, the court will consider the best interests of the child when determining custody and visitation arrangements. If there is convincing evidence a parent’s excessive drinking or drug use would endanger the child, this will be taken into consideration in the final determination regarding parenting time. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of the child.
In some cases, the court may order supervised visitation or limit the amount of time the parent with the substance abuse problem can spend with the child. The court may also order the parent to undergo substance abuse treatment or counseling as a condition for maintaining or regaining custody or visitation rights. The court may also order regular alcohol monitoring or drug testing as a stipulation for allowing visitation. If the substance abuse issue is severe or ongoing, the court may even terminate parental rights if there are reports of neglect or child abuse.
If you’re concerned about your child’s safety when they are with the other parent, you should consult with an attorney to find out the best way to proceed. It also important to document anything that supports your concerns, such as police or arrest records, DUI charges, documentation of court-mandated programs, child protective services reports, etc.
If you are the parent who has battled with and overcome an addiction, there is hope. If it has been years since the substance abuse was an issue, it will have less weight in the parenting time decision. Showing proof of the treatment you have received and your commitment to ongoing sobriety is important. If you can show the court you’re committed to staying clean, it should help your case.
The following substance abuse and child custody FAQs can also help you understand what your options are.