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Addicted parents may be unable to handle parental responsibility

A welcome change in child custody laws in Florida and across the country includes the move toward more equitable parenting plans. However, when one parent is not fit to deal with parental responsibility, the courts may decide to intervene. This typically happens in the face of evidence that a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol.

Substance abuse is often the catalyst for a marriage breakup. During a custody hearing, if the court learns that a parent's addiction or history of addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal drugs prevents him or her from providing a safe and nurturing environment for the children, a judge may impose restrictions on parenting rights. The result may be limits placed on the children's interaction with the parent, including restricted or supervised visitation, or no contact without proof that the parent is undergoing treatment.

The standard for all custody issues is the best interests of the child. A parent who recognizes the signs of substance abuse in a former spouse after custody orders are finalized can bring his or her concerns to the court. The Florida Department of Children and Families may become involved, and those agents can add support to a concerned parent's claims.

Someone who fears for the safety and well-being of children when custody orders expose the kids to the substance abuse of the other parent has the right and parental responsibility to speak up. While it may be an unpleasant thought to return to court after having gone through divorce and custody hearings already, the stakes are high when children are involved. An attorney with experience in sensitive custody matters can be a great advocate.

Source: thespruce.com, "Child Custody and Substance Abuse", Jennifer Wolf, Feb. 20, 2018

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