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.