Learn What Effect Drug and Alcohol Use Can Have on a Child Custody Case in California

Posted on: November 19, 2019

Learn What Effect Drug and Alcohol Use Can Have on a Child Custody Case in California

If you are divorcing a spouse with a substance abuse issue and you have children together, you may worry what would happen if your soon-to-be ex-spouse were granted custody. Will their drug and/or alcohol use affect your child? Keep reading to learn how drug and alcohol use can be a deciding factor in a child custody case, then contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 for a consultation with a family law attorney.

Drug and Alcohol Use Can Have a Significant Impact on a Parent’s Ability to Safely Care for Their Child

According to a government handout titled “The Effects of Substances of Abuse on Behavior and Parenting,” there are several ways that illegal drugs and/or alcohol can affect parenting. They note that parents may forget about their parenting responsibilities or neglect them. Parents may stay out all night and leave their children alone or have episodes of depression or rage, which makes the home unsafe for the child.

A parent who has used cocaine may find a child’s crying to be much louder and more intense than they would if they were not using drugs. They can become angry and even violent with the child due to cocaine-users inability to correctly interpret the behavior of those around them. A parent using opioids may “nod out” and not be able to care for their child. Even marijuana can cause parents to fall asleep and neglect their child.

When the Court Gets Involved in a Drug-Related Custody Case

The court may get involved if the problem affects the parent’s ability to care for their child safely. These issues often come up with a divorce or child custody case is pending. In other cases, a teacher, neighbor, or doctor may file a complaint with the Department of Child Protective Services and an investigation will be launched.

In the event that these allegations are made during a family court case, it is likely the judge is going to want evidence. The judge is there to determine what is in the best interest of the child and if one parent is abusing drugs or alcohol, it is likely that fact would affect how the judge decides on the custody case.

What to Do if You Are Worried About Your Child Around Their Drug or Alcohol Abusing Parent

If your child is around a parent that uses drugs or alcohol regularly, and you are worried that your child is not safe, then you should take action. If you are concerned that they are in immediate harm’s way, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, document the other parent’s behavior and any negative impact on your child. Then contact an experienced family law attorney who can help you find the best way forward to protect your child.