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Can A Parent’s Addiction Affect Time Sharing In Florida?


Florida law prefers to encourage the relationships between parents and their children, especially after a divorce when the parents no longer live together or co-parent amicably. However, in cases where the parent may be a danger to the child, the law has to take actions to limit or sever the relationship and protect the child. One situation in which a court can limit a parent’s access to a child is if the parent has a drug or alcohol problem.

Accusations by one parent that the other parent is an alcoholic or uses drugs have to be supported with evidence before a court can take action. While the parent claiming the other parent is an addict may provide the evidence, in some cases, the court can order the addicted parent to undergo random drug testing. The court can actually order both parents to undergo drug testing even if only one parent is accused of drug use.

Parents can also include terms in the parenting plan that each parent has to submit to random drug testing that can be conducted without warning. Addicts may use various ways to try and cheat the drug tests, so it is important to ensure that the tests are random. Testing can also be ordered for alcoholic parents.

Some parenting plans include language that only restricts the use of alcohol to times when the child is not in a parent’s care. However, if the parent is an alcoholic, this may not help keep the parent from drinking.

If it is proved that a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol, the court can take various steps to protect the child. Depending on how the parent’s addiction has affected the children, the court can limit time sharing to supervised visits or completely stop time sharing and award the other parent full parental responsibility. The court can also order the addicted parent to undergo treatment in order to regain full and unrestricted time sharing with the children.

It is rare for a court to terminate a parent’s parental rights due to the parent’s addiction problems. While the court can limit the parent’s access to the child, termination of parental rights is a serious matter and certain conditions have to be met. In the case of drug or alcohol abuse, parental rights can be terminated if the parent’s addiction has caused the parent to be unable to care for the child, and the parent has refused to get treatment for the addiction in the three years before the petition for termination of rights.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney

Parents who have to share parental responsibility with a parent who has a drug or alcohol problem are understandably afraid to let the addicted parent care for the children. However, if there is a court order in place ordering time sharing for the addicted parent, the other parent may feel powerless to limit access to the children. In these situations, it is best to ask a court for a modification to require supervised visitations or order other steps be taken to protect the children. For more information on the action you can take to protect your children, contact our experienced child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida.



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