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How does substance abuse impact child custody?

On Behalf of | May 19, 2021 | Family Law |

When awarding custody, the court often intends to place the child in a loving, caring, and safe home. A parent may love a child very much and wants their California home to be a safe place, but substance abuse issues could make the environment dangerous. Drug or alcohol problems might lead to neglect or even outright abuse. Therefore, the other spouse may call attention to any sobriety concerns.

The matter of substance abuse

When the courts award child custody, a standard known as the “best interest of the child” comes into play. A parent struggle with addictions puts the child’s interests at risk. For example, an impaired parent might not notice a small child playing near an electrical outlet or other dangers. Essentially, drugs and alcohol may interfere with the parent’s ability to provide care. Awarding that parent custody might be impossible.

A judge might also have concerns about visitations. Supervised visitations at a specified location may be necessary for the child’s safety. The judge would likely frown on placing a child in an environment where he or she may come in contact with drug abusers and dealers.

Bringing information to the court’s attention

The court reviews credible evidence when learning about substance abuse issues during child custody and support hearings. Information about time spent in rehab or records about drug or alcohol-related arrests might serve as evidence. An investigation may take place to uncover more evidence.

The initial custody hearing is not the only time one parent could raise concerns about the other’s substance abuse. An ex-spouse might contact the court long after the divorce when troubles arise and, possibly, ask for sole custody. There are immediate actions the concerned parent could take, such as filing for a restraining order.

An attorney may help a client concerned about the other parent’s drug or alcohol problems. The attorney might present a compelling case to the court regarding revising the custody order.