A primary goal in any divorce is to protect the health and well-being of the children. Typically, this means that the coparents work together to the best of their ability to create and execute a parenting plan. However, active co-parenting and shared custody may be an area of dispute if a parent has documented alcohol and chemical dependency issues.
There are often conditions
Judges will look closely at this issue to ensure that the dependent parent provides a safe and loving environment for the children. They will also likely not award custody unless the parent with addiction issue steps toward regaining control of their lives. The judge may issue court orders involving:
- Documentation of sobriety
- Attending classes, participating in a treatment program or seeking counseling for addiction
- Random drug tests
These may be conditions for a parent to get time with their children in an unsupervised setting. Judges may continue to employ these safeguards even after the parent demonstrates weeks or months of sobriety. Diligence and willingness to adhere to these expectations are often the fastest way to remove any conditions or restrictions.
Non-dependent parents should be careful
Many marriages break up due to addiction or complications resulting from addiction. Regardless of whether there are years of problematic behavior, the non-dependent parent should support the co-parent in hopes that the children can develop or maintain a positive relationship. A parent’s anger and hurt may need to set aside, particularly if it fuels attempts to withhold custody or visitation.
Attorneys can help draft parenting arrangements
Family law attorneys can help clients determine the best course of action to do this while also negotiating conditions for ensuring that the parents provide a safe and healthy environment. Spouses with concerns about addictive behavior should discuss the matter with their attorney to ensure it is addressed in any parenting agreements.