One of the most complex and hotly debated issues between parents in the middle of a divorce is child custody. A great number of family law courts in Georgia place a primary emphasis on the parenting plans that are created between parents. When one parent is believed to be an illicit drug user, parents can expect the court to apply a “best interest of the child” standard. Merely because one parent is using illegal drugs, this does not mean that courts will automatically disqualify the parent from custody. Instead, courts consider all relevant evidence when making a custody decision. No matter which side of matters you are on, many parents find it helpful in these situations to obtain the assistance of an experienced custody lawyer.
How a Parent’s History of Drug Use Impacts a Court’s Decision
In deciding how to award custody if one parent is a drug user, courts are required to balance the parent’s nature as a drug addict with the preference that children maintain a relationship with both parents.
Georgia Code, Section 19-9-3 states a number of factors that courts are required to use when making child custody decisions. Some of the factors that courts consider include the following:
- The affection and love between the child and both parents
- The capacity of each parent to provide affection and necessary care to the child
- Each parent’s criminal history
- Each parent’s history in taking care of the child
- Each parent’s involvement in the child’s life
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- Evidence suggesting either parent’s substance abuse history
- Whether the drug using parent has ever become violent
In deciding both parent’s substance abuse history, courts will often consider a number of additional factors including whether the alleged parent is really using drugs, whether the parent has a criminal record due to the drug use, whether the drug using parent ever endangered the child, whether the parent is still using drugs, how recent the parent’s drug use is, and why custody should still be awarded despite the drug use.
The Possibility of Court Orders
Courts in Georgia have the discretion to create orders that will allow parent/child relationships to continue while making sure that the safety remains protected. If a parent’s drug case is pending, there is a possibility that courts will wait to make decisions about custody orders until the case is resolved.
In many cases, the court will award the parent with a drug history to supervised parenting time. Courts also often require a parent to pass a drug trust before parenting time is allowed with the child. Courts sometimes even order the parent with a drug history to demonstrate participation in a drug treatment program.
Speak with an Experienced Family Law Attorney
No matter if you are a parent with a drug problem that is fighting to maintain custody of your child or you are a parent claiming that the other parent has a drug problem, it is a wise idea to speak with an experienced lawyer. Contact Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C. today to schedule an initial free case evaluation.