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Gaining greater child custody and visitation after getting sober

Your addiction to alcohol and/or drugs led to the end of your marriage and likely damaged your relationship with your children. Your divorce and your inability to get custody rights or even unsupervised visits with your kids helped you face your problems and get treatment. You sought care in an in-patient treatment center, joined a 12-step program and found a therapist who specializes in treating people with alcohol and drug problems.

Now, you've been sober for some time. You know that you can be trusted to care for your children. You'd like to seek shared custody or at least greater visitation rights. How do you convince a court that you deserve this chance?

It may seem difficult to believe, but family courts and state child welfare agencies prefer that children have a relationship with both parents — as long as they're safe. However, their responsibility is to the children, so you'll have to convince them that you can be trusted with your kids.

They may have concerns based on previous cases where parents having more time and responsibility for their kids prompted relapses. How can you present an effective case that you're now a sober person who can handle the stresses of caring for your children?

It's essential to give yourself some time after returning from a treatment facility or otherwise getting sober. The court will want to see that you've turned your life around, developed new interests and coping mechanisms and that you have a home that's safe for your kids. If you're returning to a neighborhood where you used to buy drugs on the corner or spend every night in the bar down the street, the court likely won't want the kids in that environment.

The court will probably want you to have a solid support system. Do you have a sponsor and sober friends and family you can count on to help you? Those things are essential to almost everyone's continued sobriety. If you're still hanging out with your old drinking or drug-using buddies, it may seem like you haven't turned a corner.

If you feel like you're ready to seek greater access to your children, talk with your Tennessee family law attorney. They can help you build a strong case.

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The Law Office of Steven C. Girsky
503 Madison St.
Clarksville, TN 37040

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