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Law Offices of John A. Guthrie - Family Law Attorney

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When one parent is accused of substance abuse

California estranged parents of young children may be concerned if they believe that the other parent is abusing alcohol or drugs. If this happens during a custody dispute, the parent may want to bring it to the judge’s attention at the custody hearing. The court’s standard for making a custody decision is the best interests of the child, so the judge will consider how the substance abuse affects the parent’s ability to care for the child.

In other cases, a parent might discover the substance abuse after a custody and visitation order has been issued by the court. A parent might deny the other parent visitation rights or take out a restraining order if they are concerned about the child’s safety.

If it is necessary to go to court to ask for a child custody order modification, the concerned parent should bring evidence of the substance abuse as well as evidence that it is having a negative effect on the child. A judge will investigate the veracity of the allegations and might order supervised visitations. The addicted parent may be required to attend rehabilitation or another type of counseling for a certain period of time before being allowed time with the child when a relative or social worker is not present.

Whether a parent is concerned about another parent’s substance abuse or has been accused of alcohol or drug abuse, an attorney’s advice should be sought. While a court’s priority is a child’s safety and well-being, it is also believed that it is in a child’s best interests to build a relationship with both parents. Therefore, a judge may try to find a solution that protects the child while also maintaining such a relationship.

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