Managing custody when one parent has substance use disorder

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2021 | divorce

Louisiana preserves the rights of both parents to maintain a relationship with their children in a divorce. When one parent has substance use disorder, however, a continued relationship must continue to support the child’s best interests.

Review these considerations when you share children with someone who struggles with drug or alcohol addiction.

Understanding best interest factors

Courts in Louisiana review 14 factors to determine the custody and visitation arrangement that supports a child’s best interests. Generally, however, drug and alcohol use alone does not warrant that a parent loses custody unless he or she jeopardizes the child’s safety or well-being. However, drug abuse and criminal activity do influence the judge’s best interest determination. The state does not remove parental rights to visitation and access except in situations involving domestic violence allegations.

Pursuing supervised visitation

Either parent can ask the court to supervise visitation with the other parent if safety concerns exist. You can make this request during divorce proceedings or ask for a modification of the current custody order. You must have thorough documentation of the issues with your ex-spouse’s substance use, such as police reports, electronic correspondence and eyewitness testimony.

If you provide evidence that your former spouse’s drug or alcohol use affects your child’s well-being, the judge may order supervision until he or she completes substance abuse treatment. The court could also require the parent to pass substance use screenings to maintain visitation. Conversely, a noncustodial parent who loses access because of uncontrolled drug use can petition the court for a custody modification if he or she goes through treatment.

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