Child custody cases will usually put a child’s interests at the top of the priority list. The family court will always strive to ensure the child’s welfare, safety, and health come first after separation or divorce. The court will be keen to examine the events that led to your divorce and the child custody case. A history of substance abuse could drastically influence the court’s decision. Here is how this information could affect your chances of winning child custody.
Why Do Courts Get Involved?
Suppose your substance abuse habit strained your marriage, prompting your spouse to file for divorce; this might be used against you in court. Your spouse’s lawyer may encourage your spouse to bring such complaints against your substance abuse complications. Courts generally respond to an individual’s substance abuse during child custody hearings if it could affect the child’s behavior.
What Should You Expect from the Court?
According to the law, substance abuse disorders could hinder a parent’s ability to protect and care for their children. Moreover, substance abuse could endanger a kid’s well-being, and this may quickly escalate to child abuse charges, which could complicate the child custody case.
If your substance abuse disorder is raised in a child custody hearing, the court will most likely order investigations into the matter to determine if the complaints have a basis. The judge will also want to know if substance use affects your ability to take care of your children.
What Do the Investigations Entail?
The court will study the events leading to child custody, including the causes of the divorce, any instances of child abuse, and the change in the child’s quality of life. The judge may order mandatory drug testing and mental health evaluation.
If the drug test comes back positive, the amount, frequency, and type of substance involved may influence the court’s decision on whom to award child custody, and how to allocate visitation rights. The court may impose restrictions such as termination of visitation or custody, depending on how the substance abuse disorder affected the child’s life.
What If the Custody Decision Doesn’t Favor You?
On some occasions, people have been falsely accused of abusing substances when parenting and often get punished with unfavorable decisions. In such a case, you need to find an experienced divorce lawyer to help you fight for an appeal and fight for your custody rights.
In some situations, where you were found guilty of substance abuse but have changed over time, you could win the appeal. However, you must be willing to redeem yourself for the sake of your child and influence the court to reconsider its decision. The court will generally review child custody cases if you decide to rectify mistakes and take care of your child.
Can Custody Arrangements Be Modified?
Any restrictions put in place to prevent you from seeing your child after losing custody may be modified after changing your behavior and requesting it from the court. It is essential to work with a competent and experienced lawyer to persuade the judge to change the custody order.
Suppose both parents are found guilty of abusing substances. In that case, the court is likely to order Child Protective Services to take over the responsibility of caring for the child until you or your ex-spouse steps up to take child-care responsibility.
Depending on the severity of substance abuse, the restrictions attached to your child custody case may be stringent. However, provided you are determined to change, you may have a chance at overturning the case. Ensure you learn as much as possible about child custody to make the right moves.