Substance Abuse and Your Child

If your case involves substance abuse and your child could be affected, expect the issues of legal decision making (formerly custody) and parenting time to be hotly contested.  Parents who admittedly struggle with substance abuse issues have come to us fearful that they are in danger of losing all rights to their children.  Other parents come to us afraid that their children could be harmed by the other parent due to the lack of judgment caused by a drug or alcohol problem.


If your case involves substance abuse and your child could be affected, a high probability exists that a judge will order the alleged substance abuser to submit to a urine and/or hair follicle test.  In the event the accused’s test is negative for illicit or prohibited substances, oftentimes, the other party (the “accuser”) will be responsible for bearing the cost of the test(s).  If the test is positive for any illicit or prohibited substance, the accused will not necessarily (nor automatically) lose all rights to his or her children.  In that circumstance, the court will likely place continued testing requirements upon the party who has tested positive, as 

well as place restrictions upon the parenting time that person exercises with the children.

There are certain cases in which there exists substance abuse and your child custody proceeding will not be determined as you expect anyway.  For example, a judge could find that even a person who has tested positive for an illicit drug is not an abuser.  Instead, the court could find that the ingesting of the drug (even on more than one occasion) is a lifestyle choice, not an addiction.  Under those circumstances, it is possible that even after a positive test result, no restrictions would be placed upon the person testing “dirty”.


There could be negative consequences for accusing the other party of being a drug or alcohol abuser and it is proven that the allegations were made for the sole purpose of gaining an advantage in the lawsuit.  Therefore, prior to making statements in court records that a party is an addict or alcoholic, an individual should be prepared to demonstrate to the court, with evidence and documentation, why he or she believes those statements to be true.  Should the court find that accusations were made in bad faith, the court could impose serious sanctions against the accuser, some of which could go to the heart of a custody determination.


If your case involves substance abuse and your child could be affected, we can help.  We have experience handling hundreds of cases in which substance abuse and legal decision making (formerly custody) is at issue.

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