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Sharing custody with an addicted or alcoholic parent

If you are divorcing a spouse with a drug or alcohol addiction, there are some specific issues you must sort out regarding the custody of your minor children. While these matters can get quite complicated, it is imperative that both the addicted parent and their sober counterpart work together for the best interests of their kids.

Below are some things to keep in mind when setting custody terms with a co-parent with a substance abuse problem.

The courts prefer two-parent custody arrangements

All things being equal, family law courts all over the country find that it is in children’s best interests to share time with both parents as much as is possible. However, when a co-parent is an alcoholic or a drug addict, that can be a barrier to co-parenting. In all cases, the safety and well-being of the children is the primary focus. Courts can rule that addicted parents who are not currently in recovery and actively working to stay sober are not fit to spend time alone with their children.

Family law courts look favorably on addicts who seek recovery

An alcoholic or addict parent might out of necessity need to voluntarily transfer the custody of their children to the other parent in order to enter detox/rehab and get sober. However, a family law court is not likely to hold their sincere attempt at changing their lives against them once they achieve their sobriety goals.

You can seek special conditions for visitation or custody

If you are the non-addicted parent, your attorney can request the court order testing for drugs and/or alcohol before every visitation or even that they wear an alcohol monitor during their visitation. Random drug tests may also be sought if you can convince the court that your ex is likely to relapse. Keep in mind, however, that all orders are subject to reciprocity. Making them too impossibly strict could backfire even on just social drinkers.