How Substance Abuse Affects California Child Custody

Tue 5th October, 2021 Family Law

When minor children are involved in a California divorce, one of the biggest issues to decide is that of child custody. The court must consider a number of factors when determining what is in the best interests of the child in a custody matter, and one of those factors is whether a parent suffers from substance abuse issues. Chronic abuse of alcohol or drugs can seriously impact a custody decision, so if you or your spouse has a substance abuse issue, it is important that you speak with an experienced California divorce attorney right away about how that may impact your child custody case. Call or contact the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler in Beverly Hills today to schedule a consultation and learn more.

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse refers to the overuse or incorrect use of alcohol, prescription medication, and illegal drugs. When a parent suffers from substance abuse, it can have incredibly detrimental effects on a child, and it is estimated that an average of 8.7 million children in the United States have at least one parent with a substance abuse problem. Substance abuse has been linked to dangerous and erratic behavior in parents, which can lead to domestic abuse, child endangerment, child abandonment, and neglect. Because of this, the court takes allegations of substance abuse seriously when considering the custody arrangement for a child.

Custody Implications

When a parent has a substance abuse issue, it can affect both physical and legal custody decisions for their child. Physical custody refers to where the child lives, and legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to make decisions about the child’s well-being. A judge may order that a parent with substance abuse issues undergo drug treatment and testing as a condition of custody, to ensure the child’s safety. The court may also order supervised visitation between a child and parent, where a third party is present during the interactions to ensure the safety of the child. If the substance abuse issues are serious enough, or if they have resulted in harm to the child, the court may award sole custody to one parent and deny the other any rights to see or spend time with their child.

Preparing for a Child Custody Hearing

When preparing for a child custody hearing where substance abuse issues are present, it is important to come prepared. If you are the parent with a history of substance abuse, be prepared to show the court that you have sought help, undergone treatment, and are currently clean and sober to improve your chances in the case. Be prepared to make concessions, such as agreeing to regular drug testing, in order to ensure the ongoing safety of the child.

If you are the parent who does not have the substance abuse issue, come prepared with documentation of the other parent’s substance abuse issues, including arrest records, witness testimony, photo or video evidence, and whatever else is necessary to show the court that the other parent cannot provide a safe environment for the child. To learn more, talk to our office today.

Call or Contact Us

Do you wish to learn more about how substance abuse can affect a child custody case? Call or contact the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler to schedule a consultation.