Substance abuse is often a major factor in the breakup of marriages, and clients need to know how the presence of substance abuse will affect their case.
When it comes to the division of assets and the financial aspects of a divorce, substance abuse typically won’t affect the Court’s ruling unless the spouse with substance abuse issues has used significant marital funds to support the addiction.
On the other hand, substance abuse can have a substantial impact on the issues of child custody and parenting time. While simply drinking alcohol is not prohibited in normal parenting plans, if there is evidence that substance abuse is directly impacting the children, the Court may be willing to enter specific orders to address the problem. If a parent can prove that the other parent’s substance abuse puts a child in danger of physical or emotional harm, the Court can issue orders restricting the other parent’s parenting time to supervised visitation.
The Court can also make use of new technology to help monitor the situation. In addition to requiring random urinalyses, it has become increasingly common for courts to require parents to use Breathalyzer devices that are able to send data to the other parent, the attorneys in the case, and the Guardian ad Litem, if one has been appointed for the children. While these types of devices and services can be expensive, they can also be extremely useful in determining whether a parent is continuing to abuse substances.
Recognizing that substance abuse is a disease, courts are also interested in crafting orders that encourage parents with substance abuse problems to seek treatment and rehabilitate themselves. Accordingly, it is common to see temporary orders or transitional parenting plans that change over the course of time when certain treatment and/or sobriety conditions are met.
Due to the complexity of dealing with custody and parenting issues, especially when there are safety concerns related to substance abuse, it is wise to consult a lawyer to determine the best strategy for ensuring the safety of the children.
The choice of a lawyer is an important one and should not be based solely on advertisements.