Concern about drug and alcohol use can affect a custody case in numerous ways. Accusations can be made against the other parent or may be made about you directly. What is important to know is that alcohol and drug use, and false statements about the use can affect the entire family.
A court’s main objective, like in all custody cases, is the best interest of the child. Where even allegations are made regarding drug or alcohol use, the Court must take the same seriously, as substance abuse by a parent can pose a serious risk to the child’s health, safety, and welfare.
However, a parent who has had accusations leveled against them or who has maybe had an issue they have recovered from in the past should not feel defeated. The Court is required also to look at the totality of the circumstances, and this is only one factor to be considered in the evaluation of the best interests of the child. For example, where a party attempts to use another’s past against them, they may find to be on the wrong side of the Court’s evaluation, if the Court sees that party was lying to manipulate the situation in their favor. It is another factor for the Court to consider, which parent is going to promote a relationship with the other, and if a parent is willing to lie about someone’s substance abuse to get a leg up, they are unlikely to be found to be that parent.
Additionally, where allegations of substance abuse arise, the Court can order testing – and depending on the circumstances, sometimes both parents are tested despite a one-sided allegation. Again, a failed test does not mean that all is lost. The Court can and will consider ordering the competition of drug or alcohol treatment and additional testing. This allows the parent to show that they are committed to sobriety, and the best interests of their children, by passing the additional tests and completing treatment programs. In the alternative, where a parent continues to fail these tests or classes, they may find themselves subject to limited to supervised visitation.