Addiction and Custody

coupleIf you share a child with an addict you are probably primarily concerned about your child’s safety and what kind of access your ex will be permitted to have with your child. Family court judges are well-versed in the problems of addiction and understand its impact on children.

If you know or believe your ex is an addict, tell your attorney. Together you can evaluate the level of danger and whether Child Protective Services should be contacted. You attorney can request that the court order an evaluation of your ex to determine if he or she has an addiction and/or poses a danger to your child.

You should keep a journal or file about your ex and share this with your attorney. Document when and where your ex went to rehab, has been arrested, parented inappropriately, or exposed your child to danger. Creating a clear record of addiction and endangerment will be very persuasive.

Courts in Arizona will consider addiction as part of the best interests analysis that is done in determining custody, parenting time, and legal decision-making. Your ex’s addiction impacts his or her ability to parent and to provide a safe and nurturing environment for your child, so it is of grave concern to the court. Your ex’s addiction impacts his or her relationship with your child and the interaction between parent and child, both specific factors the court must consider. The judge also must take into account the physical and mental health of the parents and addiction clearly falls into this category. The court also is required to consider whether domestic violence has occurred. Often where there is addiction there is  abuse.

When considering your ex’s addiction, the court will evaluate if your ex is in recovery or is still abusing substances. Addicts are not automatically denied custody or visitation. The court will look to balance a parent-child relationship with safety. Supervised parenting time may be an option that is considered if there are concerns about safety.

For assistance with a divorce or custody case that involves addiction, contact the experienced attorneys at the Sampair Group in the Mesa or Glendale areas of Arizona. We can provide the help that you need.