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How can substance abuse affect child custody matters?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2021 | Divorce |

Sadly, some residents of Pennsylvania struggle with substance abuse. Many of those people are parents. Substance abuse can affect a parent’s child custody. It’s important to know what can happen in this situation.

When does the court get involved when a parent has a substance abuse disorder?

If a parent has a substance abuse disorder and has child custody or is seeking it, the court can get involved. In most cases, this happens after there is a complaint made by the other parent or another source. Even if substance abuse is suspected, it can affect the child. The court or Child Protective Services can then get involved.

How does the court respond to substance abuse by a parent?

The court can step in and take action if a parent is abusing alcohol or drugs. In terms of the latter, whether they are illegal substances or prescription drugs, if the use affects the individual’s ability to properly care for their child or the child is placed in danger, the court can act.

When the matter of substance abuse is brought up during a child custody hearing, the judge usually orders an investigation. This is done to determine whether there indeed is substance abuse on the part of the parent. The court will always act based on what’s in the best interest of the child.

If substance abuse is confirmed, the judge can order supervised visitation for the noncustodial parent. The parent will be ordered to enter rehabilitation. Visitation may continue to be supervised until they can show that they have successfully completed their rehab program.

What to do if you’re concerned

If you have a concern that your ex is abusing drugs or alcohol, you should bring it up in court. Be sure to document everything that supports your complaints, including DUI charges, police reports, arrests, and anything else pertinent. If you have documentation to back up your claims, it can help. You can also file for a restraining order if you fear for your child’s safety.