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Substance abuse, child custody and visitation

Child custody and visitation are difficult even in amicable divorces. However, California courts demand more oversight when one parent is a current or former substance abuser. In these cases, the judge may weigh in even if the parents came to an agreement.

Reports of substance abuse

Did your future ex-spouse tip off the court that you have a substance abuse problem? Maybe it is something a social worker observed. The child may have talked to a teacher about drug use in the home, and the educator had the duty to report this. No matter how the court found out, the judge must now taker a closer look at custody agreements.

Determining child custody and visitation with an evaluation

The court wants to know what the child’s home environment looks like before awarding one party or the other child custody and visitation. It is a stressful time for the parents. In essence, a third party enters the home, evaluates the parent’s interactions with the child, checks on the safety of the venue, and documents all findings.

Also, unless you admit to current or former drug use, the judge will investigate the matter. It is in your best interest to be honest. If the truth is not pretty, consider taking steps to clean up your life before the court asks you. Thus, you can show that you recognize the problem and took steps to correct it.

Making Changes to an existing custody and visitation arrangement

If someone made the allegations of drug use after the judge decided on custody, the court can amend its order. Once again, the judge will order an investigation. If there is truth to the allegation, the court will make changes such as revoking visitation, ordering supervised visitation, or awarding custody to the other parent.

No matter which side of the issue you are on, you could protect your child’s wellbeing by discussing the situation with an attorney.