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Specialty tag(s): Child Custody, Mental Health and Addiction in Divorce

How to Keep My Child Safe When My Spouse Has a Substance Abuse Issue in Child Custody Litigation

Hayley Collins Blair | September 13, 2022

If you’re a parent with a recent substance use history, whether alcohol or drugs, it’s important to show the court and the other parent that you are in recovery. The best way to do this is to proactively agree to submit to drug and alcohol testing over a period of time. This objective evidence, the drug testing or alcohol testing data, will show the court and the other parent that you are in recovery. The court will not limit a parent’s time with their children on the basis of history if the parent can show that they are currently in recovery with drug or alcohol testing.

Alcohol Testing

If you’re a parent with concerns about the other parent’s use of alcohol, you can request the court and the other parent to submit to alcohol testing. The most common type of alcohol testing is breath testing. The testing parent will have a device similar to the size of a cell phone that the parent will blow into. When the parent blows into the device, the device will record that parent’s BAC or blood alcohol content. An impressive aspect of these devices is that once the parent blows into the device and the BAC is registered; the other parent can receive an immediate email or text message with that parent’s BAC. For example, if the parent receives a text message or email showing the testing parent has a positive BAC, then they can immediately pick up the children and remove them from the potentially unsafe environment.

Testing for Prescription Medications

Another increasingly common type of substance abuse that we are seeing is prescription medication, both opiates, and stimulants such as Adderall or Vyvanse. The concern with prescription medication abuse is that the parent is prescribed medications, and they’ll say they’re using their medications in accordance with their prescription. A way to address a concern about prescription medication abuse is to request the court to order a substance abuse evaluation. This evaluation will address prescription abuse by reviewing the parent’s prescription history, mental health, and medical treatment records. It will also take into account other collateral witnesses to gather information, impressions, and opinions about the parent’s substance use with regard to their prescriptions.

When there is a substance abuse or addiction issue with a parent or concern in a child custody case, it’s important that a one size fits all approach is not the only option. Rather, it’s important to work with a family law attorney who’s experienced in addressing substance use issues and concerns so that there will be a parenting plan in place that protects your kids and make sure substance abuse is not a safety concern.

Learn More

Hayley’s practice covers all facets of family law matters, with an emphasis on complex property and child custody cases. She guides her clients to reach an efficient and constructive resolution. Hayley was listed as a Best Lawyers by D Magazine in 2018, 2021, and 2022. She is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

If you have questions about how to protect your child during child custody when your spouse has a substance abuse issue, please get in touch with Hayley Collins Blair at 214-473-9696.

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