Can Substance Abuse Impact Child Custody?
If you’re getting divorced and your spouse has a substance addiction problem, you’re undoubtedly anxious about them being around your kids when you’re not around. Substance misuse is a major problem that affects people of all colors, faiths, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Any family can be harmed by domestic violence.
Let’s take a look at how substance misuse might impair parenting before we talk about how it can effect child custody in a California divorce. The effects of substances abuse on behavior and parenting are detailed in this government handout titled “The Effects of Substances of Abuse on Behavior and Parenting.“
Alcohol’s parenting Effects on Children
Parenting effects of Illegal Drugs on Children
We are only scratching the surface with regards to the parenting effects of illegal drugs, but the above list does help us better understand the magnitude of the problem.
Prescription Drugs on Parenting Effects
Substance abuse disorders (SUD’s) are characterized by constant use of alcohol and/or drugs that results in issues such as failing to meet obligations at work, home, or school; having poor health; and spending an increased amount of time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of using substances. Parent substance use and parent experience of an SUD can have negative effects on children.
When Are the Courts Involved in a Case?
When a parent’s substance abuse problem (alcohol, drugs, or prescription drugs) interferes with their ability to care for their children, the courts may intervene. The topic frequently arises during a legal separation, divorce, or child custody lawsuit. However, there are situations when a third person, such as a teacher, doctor, or neighbor, files a complaint with the Department of Child Protection Services, which leads to an investigation.
If charges of substance abuse are brought up in a family court case, the judge is likely to inquire more. After all, it’s in the best interests of the child to learn whether the claims are genuine, and if so, how the parents’ drug or alcohol misuse is affecting their capacity to properly care for their children.
When determining child custody in California and all 50 states, family court judges apply the “best interests of the child” standard. The judge should be informed if a parent has a drug or alcohol problem.
However, in all child custody cases, the judge considers all relevant issues that may have an impact on the child’s well-being, such as a history of domestic violence, child neglect, criminal activity, sexual abuse, abandonment, and any history of substance addiction.
Do you have an issue that you’d like to discuss?
If you are concerned about the other parent’s drug or alcohol abuse, we recommend that you keep track of all instances that confirm your suspicions. If you can obtain supporting documentation, such as arrest records, police reports, criminal convictions, restraining orders, and so on, that will be extremely useful in proving that the other parent is not safe.
If you’re concerned about your children’s safety, talk to a judge right away and explain why you have a good basis to deny the other parent visitation.
If you need legal representation, call Spodek Law Group today. We serve clients throughout the Golden State in child custody and other family law matters.
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