It seems like any time you look at the news nowadays there are stories about substance abuse and drug overdoses. The problem has worsened significantly over recent years with the explosion of opioid use. While this issue is finally starting to receive the attention it deserves, some individuals fail to recognize that substance abuse can play a significant role in family law matters, especially child custody and visitation.
Of course, when it comes to deciding child custody and visitation issues, a court will always rule in a way that it deems protective of a child's best interests. Therefore, mere allegations of substance abuse likely won't be enough to have any real impact on these issues. However, when these allegations are made, a court will probably want more information regarding current use and any history of substance abuse. Individuals seeking to provide proof of substance abuse can turn to police reports, criminal court records, and witness accounts.
It is important to note, though, that even once substance abuse is established a court may still be reluctant to modify a child custody or visitation arrangement unless it can be shown that the substance abuse affects the individual's ability to parent. Again, in these circumstances it may be best to have witnesses who can testify as to how the parent's drug use affects his or her behavior and how, in turn, that behavior may negatively impact the children.
Substance abuse can be a touchy issue for some, but it can be of the utmost importance when it comes to the safety and well-being of children. So, those who want to seek a change to their existing custody or visitation plan, as well as those who are seeking to push back against allegations of substance abuse, should discuss the matter with their family law or divorce attorney.