Your Legal Guide Through Life’s Twists And Turns

Convincing a court of your co-parent’s substance abuse problem

If you’re divorcing a co-parent with an alcohol or drug abuse issue — or if your co-parent has developed an issue since your original custody agreement was worked out — you’re likely concerned for the safety and well-being of your kids. You may be seeking sole physical custody and perhaps supervised visitation for the other parent.

However, if your spouse is fighting you on the issue and the matter is being decided by a judge, you need to be prepared to substantiate your claims in court. You’ll have to provide evidence of your co-parent’s substance abuse problem — particularly if they deny having one.

You can provide your own sworn testimony if you’ve seen your co-parent endanger the kids by drinking excessively or using drugs when the children were in their care. You may have even witnessed your spouse using drugs or alcohol right in front of the kids! If a third party is willing to testify that they’ve witnessed that kind of activity, that may also help your case.

You can ask your co-parent to submit to alcohol or drug testing, perhaps on an ongoing basis. However, that will require your co-parent’s consent. If they have a problem, they aren’t likely to agree to that without an order from the court.

Don’t put too much stock in photographic evidence. You may have all sorts of photos of your ex in various states of inebriation. However, that doesn’t prove that they can’t be a good parent. Even a photo of them with the kids and surrounded by bottles of alcohol really doesn’t prove anything.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t make a case that your co-parent’s alcohol and/or drug use doesn’t endanger your child. If there have been drunk driving charges with the kids in the car or domestic violence police reports, for example, those police reports can be powerful evidentiary documents.

The best thing to do is to discuss your concerns with your attorney. Your attorney can work with you to make the strongest possible case you can for custody in order to protect your children’s well-being.


FindLaw Network