However, life can get in the way of the best laid plans and sometimes even the best parenting plans need substantial modification. Such is the case when one parent in a divorce with children develops a substance abuse problem – especially one that is severe enough to adversely affect the daily lives of your kids.
When you establish your parenting plan in the early stages of divorce proceedings, it is best to establish who makes decisions during various states of residential time or parenting time. Should these provisions need to be amended due to the onset, continuation, or exacerbation of problematic substance use or addiction concerns with one (or even both) parent(s), consulting your lawyer is of primary importance.
If the parent with the substance abuse problem is the non-custodial parent, the court may order supervised visits in controlled settings. The focus here is on the maintenance of the parental relationship with the child, but also on the child’s safety. If child protection agencies or authorities have been involved, the court may order their continued supervision – sometimes with both parents.
Action plan for concerned parents:
If you are concerned about your former spouse’s relationship with drugs and/or alcohol and how it could be affecting family dynamics or the welfare of your children, consider the following first steps:
- Express Concern To Your Child’s Community: Speak with the troubled parent, enlist familial or community support, seek counseling, or interface with clergy. If there have been demonstrable issues (for example, a DUI), make sure your children’s care providers and schools are aware that there are ongoing issues.
- Gather Evidence: This could be in the form of obtaining police reports, arrest records, or medical records, but it’s imperative that you have proof if you are looking to amend court documents. Additionally, this evidence could help your former spouse qualify for treatment options, which could be beneficial to your children and family.
- Consult With Your Family Law Attorney: Your attorney may suggest that you file a restraining order, refuse visitation, or appeal to amend your divorce decree. Do not take action without adequate representation, and without consulting with legal counsel.
Remember, the safety of your children comes first. You will most likely feel angry or resentful toward your ex during this time. However, it is in your and your child’s best interest for you to remain calm yet vigilant. Our office can help you navigate this difficult time with your family.