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Seeking custody when your co-parent has a drug or alcohol problem

On Behalf of | May 28, 2024 | Child Custody

If your soon-to-be ex and co-parent has a serious alcohol and/or drug problem, you may be seeking sole physical custody of your child to help protect their safety and well-being. You may even be asking that any visitation between your child and your co-parent be supervised. Even if your co-parent has never been abusive toward your child, you may be able to make the case that their substance abuse issue prevents them from caring for your child responsibly on their own.

If your co-parent intends to fight for shared custody, you need to be prepared to provide evidence of their substance abuse problem and how it has affected your child. That can be a challenge if your co-parent doesn’t acknowledge their problem, let alone seem to be taking any steps to address it.

What evidence is admissible?

You may be able to recall numerous times when your spouse neglected or harmed your child (physically, verbally or emotionally). However, to make your case that you should have sole custody, you’ll need to provide the court with evidence. Most family court judges have heard more than their share of accusations of drinking and drug problems between divorcing spouses, so you’ll need more than accusations.

Any kind of police report or criminal conviction can help, of course. If your spouse has been arrested on drug or DUI charges, this can help substantiate your claims. If they have been charged with public intoxication or disturbing the peace, this could help. However, if none of these things occurred in the presence of your child, the connection to their ability to parent can be harder to make.

If you have texts or voicemails from your spouse where they’re clearly under the influence, those may be admissible. Witness testimony can sometimes be helpful. However, it’s best if it’s from someone who’s neutral – not from your family or friends. The judge may even agree to talk with the child themselves if they believe that would be helpful.

When making a case for sole custody and limited visitation rights for your co-parent because of their substance abuse, it’s important to present compelling evidence. However, it’s also crucial to show that you’re acting in the best interests of your child rather than out of anger or revenge toward your spouse. Having experienced legal guidance may prove to be essential to achieving that balance.