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How can addiction affect child custody rulings?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2024 | Child Custody & Support |

Divorces often become quite emotional, especially when spouses don’t agree on what is appropriate for their family moving forward. When there are children involved, conflicts often arise related to parenting time and parenting decisions.

There is a standard expectation in Connecticut that adults should share custody of their children unless there are unusual circumstances. A parent battling with addiction might be one scenario in which the other parent worries that shared custody could endanger their children.

What impact can a substance abuse disorder potentially have on custody proceedings?

Addicted parents may struggle to fulfill their duties

Parents coping with substance abuse issues may have a host of issues that make their lives unstable. Addiction often relates to unaddressed trauma, meaning that they may have secondary mental health challenges to overcome. Those issues may lead to volatile behavior, especially when someone isn’t self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.

Additionally, dependence on different substances can put financial strain on an individual. Serious addiction can make it difficult to maintain consistent relationships and employment. Addicted parents may also consume their substance of choice while they have parenting time, potentially leading to neglect because they cannot meet the children’s needs.

When do the courts consider substance abuse issues?

The courts generally consider any relevant information when determining what is in a child’s best interests. The ability of the parent to meet the needs of the child is an important factor.

If one parent hopes to acquire sole custody to protect their children from the substance abuse disorder of a co-parent, they need documentation affirming their claims. Financial records showing how much someone spends at bars might help. Medical records of treatment required because of consuming too much or going through withdrawal might help. Even witness statements from neighbors, teachers and other community members help support the claim that one parent struggles with a substance abuse issue that could affect the safety of the children.

Judges often cannot give much weight to claims of addiction if the only evidence supporting the allegations is the verbal testimony of one parent. Gathering appropriate evidence about unusual circumstances can help parents pursue custody arrangements that adequately protect their children. Those facing particularly contentious custody cases may need help as they document their concerns and prepare for family court.

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