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How Long Do You Have To Stay Sober Before You Can Get More Parenting Time?


The concept of hitting rock bottom before beginning to recover from substance use disorder is somewhat outdated, but most people enter inpatient treatment centers for addiction with the feeling that things have gotten bad and they want to achieve sobriety before things get any worse. Perhaps parents feel this even more acutely than people who do not have children.  They seek out addiction treatment, or they secretly feel relieved when the court orders them to begin treatment, because they want to rebuild their relationship with their children, be good role models, or even just be alive to see their children grow up.  Despite the social stigma you might face on the part of your ex-spouse and your family because of your addiction, the family courts of Florida believe that it is in a child’s best interest to be in regular contact with both parents; the fact that you have had struggles in life does not take away your right to a relationship with your children or your obligation to contribute to their financial support.  The court will not reduce your parenting time simply because you take Suboxone as prescribed or because your schedule involves twelve-step meetings.  Rebuilding your relationship with your children after becoming sober is a long and difficult process, however, and a Boca Raton child custody lawyer can help you with the legal aspects.

Persuading the Court That It Is Not Just Another Round of the Florida Shuffle

The family court cares about your behavior toward your children and ex-spouse, not about the substances that cause this behavior.  The following behaviors can cause the court to order you to have supervised parenting time only, or even to temporarily suspend your parenting time completely:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Using illegal drugs in the presence of your children or keeping them in the home
  • Domestic violence

In other words, the court is focusing on your children’s safety, not on your addiction.  Many parents who have struggled with substance use disorder also run into other problems in their family law cases, such as an unstable home environment, failure to follow their parenting plans, or inability to pay court-ordered child support.

If you have just completed inpatient treatment or started attending AA meetings, it is not too soon to contact a family law attorney about exercising your legal right to parenting time.  It is best to start small and show the court that you are trustworthy.  For example, start making payments on your overdue child support, even if you are only able to pay a small amount each month.  If you have court-ordered parenting time, always pick up the children on time and return them to your ex-spouse on time.  If the court wants your parents or your ex-in-laws to be present during your parenting time, be gracious about it.  With time, you will be able to get a more favorable parenting schedule.

Contact Schwartz | White About Co-Parenting With Gratitude

A South Florida family law attorney can help you modify your parenting time or return to compliance with it after undergoing substance abuse treatment.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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