Co-Parenting With An Addict
The pressures and worries of co-parenting can be scary enough. However, throw addiction into the mix, and you have the recipe for a highly stressful situation. An addict’s habits can have a major impact on those around them, including their children. Your first instinct might be to try and prevent the addicted parent from seeing the children, but that can raise concerns about damaging the child’s relationship with a parent.
That is why if you are co-parenting with an addict, you must receive quality legal advice to gain insight as to how to deal with the situation in the most productive way for both you and your children.
Issues within the parenting relationship will potentially form if one of the parents is an addict. Firstly, if the parent is abusing substances in the presence of the children, then it is likely they are not in a fit condition to actively look after the children.
Children, especially young children, need to be watched and constantly cared for. However, if the addicted parent is under the influence, the substances may cause them to neglect their parental duties. Substance abuse goes hand in hand with erratic and wild behavior, which could put the children in danger.
Exposing children to an environment where drugs and alcohol are present, or to someone who is suffering the effects of these substances is not an appropriate position for the children to be in. Additionally, growing up around drugs and alcohol can severely damage the psychological development of the child, causing long-term mental health issues.
These potential issues are the source of nightmares for parents, however, there are some measures you can put in place to mitigate the effects. You must remember that your number one priority is the well-being of the children. However, it is important to take into account that this is still their parent, and an attempt at a relationship should be made if possible.
How Addiction Can Affect Custody
The addiction of a parent will be taken into account by the judge when deciding on custody for the children, whether that be during divorce proceedings, or if you make an application to change custody arrangements after the divorce. While the court appreciates that the relationship between child and parent is important, the safety of the child is also to be taken into account.
When dealing with custody of the children, an arrangement where the sober parent has primary custody, and the addicted parent can participate in supervised visits is often the outcome of custody agreements. The visits usually have to be supervised due to the serious nature of substance addiction.
If the co-parent is a past addict, this will also affect custody and visitation. The court will scrutinize their recovery process and look to see if they have made the required lifestyle changes. If the court is satisfied, the ex-addict parent may even be awarded full custody should the court see this as an appropriate outcome.
You can also work alongside your co-parent to help them achieve sobriety. If they are trying to achieve sobriety to have increased access to their children, then the court may order random drug testing and state-approved rehabilitation programs to help them become fit to parent their children again, and to ensure that they are generally safe to be around the children.
How We Can Help
As the sober parent, you need to create an arrangement that will benefit the whole family. Employing a family lawyer will help you to negotiate and come to a conclusion that will allow for effective co-parenting, the safety of the children, and potentially push for the sobriety of the other parent.
Is your co-parent an addict? The friendly and experienced team at Mattis Law, A.P.C. can help. Call us today at (858) 328-4400 for quality legal advice.