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Addiction and Co-Parenting: Wishful Thinking Has No Place in Parenting Plans


Anyone who has ever struggled with substance use disorder or had a family member who has knows that recovery is a lifelong process.  Addiction does not take away your right to have a relationship with your children, but the court-ordered parenting plan has to reflect the reality of how healthy you currently are and how safe your children currently are in your care.  You might decide now, in September, right after you have filed for divorce, that you will quit drinking in the new year and that you will be several months sober by the time your divorce becomes final. From the perspective of family law, though, that is just speculation and not a fact on which to base a child custody decision.  A Florida child custody lawyer can help you persuade the court that you are ready for unsupervised parenting time.

Supervised Parenting Time in Florida

The court cannot award parenting time to the sober you until that person truly exists.  When alcohol or drugs interfere with a parent’s ability to provide adequate care for their children, the court usually awards supervised parenting time to that parent.  For example, your parenting plan might say that the children will be with you from Saturday morning until Sunday morning every week and that your mother or father must be present at all times.  Supervised parenting arrangements are meant to be temporary, but before you can revert to unsupervised parenting, the court must review how your situation has changed for the better.  For example, you don’t automatically go back to unsupervised parenting time after a year of supervised parenting time.  Instead, at the end of the one-year period, there is a hearing where you can present evidence that it is in your children’s best interest for you to have unsupervised parenting time.

A Case of Specific Conditions for Reverting to Unsupervised Parenting Time

Robynn Hughes and Robert Binney divorced in 2016, while their children were minors.  When their divorce became final, Robert was living with his father and suffering from addiction to opioids and inhalants.  Several incidents during Robert’s parenting time led the court to order supervised visitation for him.  Specifically, on one occasion, Robert fell asleep in his car outside the children’s daycare, holding an aerosol can, and when police arrived, he was incoherent.  In another incident, he accidentally shot himself in the foot with a firearm while under influence of drugs.  His driving was erratic, including while the children were in the car.  The supervised parenting plan arrangement granted Robert time with the children on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., in his father’s presence.  The original arrangement had an automatic expiration date, but Robynn appealed this decision, and the court accepted her appeal.  In 2019, the appeals court ruled that Robert would only be given unsupervised parenting time if he demonstrated, at a hearing, that he had fulfilled certain conditions.  Sobriety was one condition, and another was that he needed to have his own residence, since his father was a heavy smoker, and Robynn was concerned about secondhand smoke exposure.

Contact Us Today for Help

A Boca Raton child custody lawyer can help you modify your parenting plan to reflect your current state of sobriety.  Contact Schwartz | White for assistance with your case.




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