What Can I Do If I Believe My Child’s Other Parent is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol?
Unfortunately, drugs do not discriminate against whom they choose as prey, and individuals of varying circumstances tend to fall victim to drug abuse on a daily basis. Unfortunately, oftentimes the individuals abusing drugs are parents—mothers and fathers of babies, young children, and adolescents. According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 13 percent of U.S. children under the age of 18 live in a household in which one or both parents abuse illicit drugs, while 24 percent live in a household in which one or more parents abuses alcohol.
It is never in the best interests of any child to be in the presence of a drug-abusing parent, so when one or more parents in a child custody case is accused of doing drugs or abusing alcohol, the judge takes the allegations seriously, and may order a drug test for one or both of the parents. If you believe that your child’s other parent is addicted to narcotics or alcohol, and if you feel that their abuse has or does negatively affect their ability to properly care for your child, then it is imperative that you file a motion to request a drug test as soon as possible. Consult with a Boca Raton family lawyer for help with filing the motion and in proving drug abuse.
How Drug and/or Alcohol Abuse Affects a Child’s Development
According to a study done by CASAColumbia, Family Matters: Substance Abuse and the American Family, parents who abused illegal drugs, alcohol, or tobacco put their child at greater risk for physical injury and mental illness. Furthermore, the paper found that alcohol- and drug- abusing parents were three times more likely to abuse their children than non-using parents, and four times more likely to neglect them. Additionally, children who grew up in households with chronic substance abuse were at increased risk of accidents, injuries, and academic failure, and were much more likely to suffer from conduct disorders, depression, or anxiety. Finally, children of substance abuse were more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as adults.
Proving Drug Abuse in a Child Custody Case
Before a judge will administer a drug test, you must be able to provide corroborating evidence proving that the other parent is abusing drugs. This evidence can come in the form of medical records, police records, social welfare reports, or third party accounts that attest to the validation of the accusation.
Furthermore, the family courts must find that there is evidence of chronic illegal substance abuse, and not just the use of controlled substances. This is more difficult to prove than just merely showing that the defendant has used drugs in the past. Examples of proof of habitual drug abuse would be:
- Admittance to a drug rehabilitation facility;
- A recent DUI charge;
- A recent drug possession charge; and
- An illicit drug use charge.
If the court finds that this is sufficient evidence of drug abuse, they will order a drug test. Unfortunately, a judge can only order urinary tests, as hair follicle tests are considered “too intrusive.”
What Happens If A Drug Test Comes Back Positive?
Generally, a judge will order limited or restricted visitation rights should a test provide positive results. However, depending on the severity of the drug abuse, limited visitation may only be temporary. A judge may decree that if drug rehabilitation, counseling, and parenting classes are completed by a set date, then the abusing parent may regain custodial rights.
Consult a Boca Raton Custody Attorney
At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, our child custody attorneys are here to help you gain full custodial rights in the event that your child’s other parent is abusing drugs or alcohol. Our goal is to keep your family safe, healthy, and happy, and sometimes that means modifying custodial agreements to ensure the best interests of your child are retained. To schedule a private consultation with one of our Florida custody lawyers today, contact our family law firm at 561.391.9943 or online.