Long, Murphy & Zung, P.A.

How drug or alcohol dependencies impact a child custody case

In a case where it can be proven that a parent has developed a dependency on either drugs or alcohol, a judge may require that the parent with the addiction undergoes random drug or alcohol testing.

If the parent is able to demonstrate that he or she can maintain his or her sobriety for a period of time, then the judge will likely order supervised visitation with the child. This is seen as a way to keep the parent in the child's life, something that's critical for his or her development.

It's only after that parent has successfully proven that he or she has overcome a dependency on drugs or alcohol that a judge will reconsider allowing him or her to have unsupervised visits with his or her child.

In a case in which a parent is unable to overcome substance abuse issues, a judge may deem it to be dangerous to be around his or her child. If the parent's addiction to either alcohol or drugs seems to persist after treatment, then custody may be withdrawn from him or her in the long term.

If that parent ever desires to regain custody, then it's likely that a judge will have him or her complete any number of different screenings for drugs or alcohol. A judge or your ex's attorney may express certain preferences for certain types of tests based on how reliable they are in detecting substance abuse.

For example, a parent who wants to restrict another from obtaining custody may object to a urinalysis because it only is capable of detecting a substance for just a few days. They may, however, ask the judge to subject you to body hair testing, as it can capture substance abuse within a two-week time frame.

Alternatively, a judge or your ex's attorney may request toenail testing. That's because it's seen as one of the best approaches for detecting drugs used by an individual for up to a year.

As for alcohol consumption, a portable Breathalyzer device known as Soberlink has proven to be an effective tool for keeping track of whether a parent was intoxicated while in the presence of his or her child.

Whether you're looking for a judge to prevent your ex from spending time with the kids or you're looking to regain visitation rights with them, a Naples child custody attorney can advise you of your rights to do so.

Source: D Magazine, "How alcohol and drug allegations can impact your child custody case," accessed Oct. 20, 2017

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