How parental substance abuse can harm your child

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2023 | Family Law |

A child custody dispute can be hotly contested, with each parent thinking they know what’s best for their kid. But when you’re unable to resolve this matter on your own, it’ll have to be litigated in court, meaning that the ultimate decision about how much time you spend with your child will be left in the hands of a judge.

If you’re in that position, you need to prepare yourself to present the strongest evidence possible to support your position. It’s important to keep in mind that the court will assess your case in a way that allows it to make what it believes is a decision that most fully supports the child’s best interests. This opens the door to argue a lot of issues, but one common problem that we see in these child custody cases is parental substance abuse.

How exposure to parental substance abuse harms children

Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse. Although it’s understandable that those who suffer from addiction will need time and treatment to obtain and maintain sobriety, children shouldn’t be put in the middle of active drug and alcohol abuse.

In fact, exposure to parental substance abuse can be extremely harmful to your child, resulting in any of the following:

  • An increased risk of abuse
  • An increased risk of neglect
  • The onset of behavioral problems
  • Excessive fear and worry
  • The assumption of parental responsibilities
  • Poor school performance

There are many other ways that exposure to parental substance abuse may harm your child, too. So, if you see your child exhibiting any of these signs of such exposure, you might want to start asking questions to figure out what’s going on.

Proving parental substance abuse in your custody case

Bald assertions of parental substance abuse aren’t going to get you very far in court. You’re going to need evidence to back up your claims. This might include securing police reports and criminal records, and even eliciting statements from your child and other witnesses who have seen parental substance abuse and your child’s exposure to it.

Although showing parental substance abuse should be enough to support the request that you’re making, you should consider strengthening your case by having evidence that directly links the exposure to substance abuse to the negative impacts that you’re seeing in your child. A therapist may be able to help you demonstrate this, but even someone like your child’s teacher may present persuasive testimony to support your request.

Be prepared going into your case

Before you file your motion to modify custody, you need to be prepared. You should have evidence in hand and a clear understanding of what it is that you’re requesting and why. You might merely seek to restrict the other parent’s visitation so that it’s supervised, or you may seek sole physical custody with limited or no visitation for the other parent. What’s key is that you know how to articulate what it is that you want and persuasively indicate why such a change is appropriate.

Are you ready to take the next steps in your child custody case?

If so, you might be considering seeking out legal assistance. While you can try to navigate your custody case on your own, by doing so, you may end up missing out on strong legal arguments that increase your chances of having the court rule in your favor.

If you want to prevent that from happening and instead want to present the strongest case possible under the circumstances, you might want to think about working with a skilled family law attorney who you feel is a good fit for you, your family and your case.