Will Marijuana Affect My Custody Claim?
The landscape of the culture regarding marijuana is changing, along with how the public views marijuana and its users. Nevertheless, legal marijuana use could have an impact on a child custody case. In the criminal arena, after recreational use of cannabis became legal in California, many pending misdemeanor possession cases were dropped. In family court, however, it is a different matter, and marijuana use could still arise as an issue.
How Can Smoking Weed Be Used Against You?
In a child custody dispute, each parent attempts to build a case against the other. If you are regular marijuana user, your ex may use it to try to show the court that you are less qualified to have custody of minor children. Although it is now legal to smoke pot in California, it is still a Schedule 1 drug under federal law. Legal marijuana use is generally regarded in a similar way as alcohol consumption. The court is not likely to base its decision in a custody matter solely on whether you smoke weed, but it very well may be a factor.
How Does Marijuana Use Relate to the Best Interests of the Child?
Family court decisions are always based on the best interests of the child. Although recreational marijuana use is now legal in California, it has a negative reputation with the courts as to how it impacts a parent’s ability to put the best interests of the child first. In many child custody cases, family court judges use the same principles for legal marijuana use as for alcohol use. The court may see excessive drug use as a reason to remove visitation or even terminate parental rights if it believes it threatens the child’s wellbeing.
What Points Could Your Ex Make About Your Marijuana Use?
Your ex’s attorney may present a case to the court, defaming your character based on habitual use of marijuana. Many family court judges understand that reasonable use of cannabis by a parent will not impact the child’s wellbeing any more than it would for a parent to occasionally have an alcoholic beverage. A parent who uses marijuana will not automatically lose custody rights, but a parent who does not use marijuana may be favored over one who does. Points made by the other side against you may include:
- The effect pot smoking can have on responsibility levels of a parent
- Health repercussions of marijuana use
- Risk of second-hand smoke exposure for children
- Risk of children being involved in a drug-impaired driving accident
- Risk of children ingesting cannabis edibles
How Can You Protect Yourself As a Parent Who Uses Marijuana?
Substance abuse is always an issue in child custody cases, and marijuana is no exception. If you use cannabis recreationally, use common sense to protect your child custody rights:
- Never get high in front of your children, or when you plan to be around them. Stay sober when the kids are with you.
- Do not drive a vehicle under the influence of marijuana — ever. In addition to the risk of an accident and criminal consequences, a DUI could be used against you in family court.
- Keep your stash, including any edibles, secure and inaccessible to children. Do the same with any paraphernalia.
If you need legal assistance in a custody case in which marijuana use is an issue, contact Mattis Law, A.P.C. at (858) 328-4400 to schedule a free consultation. Our San Diego family law attorneys can help protect your future relationship with your children. You can rely on our firm for high quality representation from an experienced family lawyer with an excellent reputation.