As is common in many parts of the United States, Georgia is currently experiencing an epidemic drug problem. When married people use drugs, divorce often follows, which leads to custody issues. Many people ask what influence a former spouse’s drug use can have on a custody case. It is critical to understand that while a history of drug use can influence a court’s custody decision, it is not the only factor influencing custody determinations.
How Courts View Drug Abuse
Courts view drug abuse by a parent as one of the most common reasons why families disintegrate. In the perspective of many judges in Georgia, drug abuse frequently results in emotional and financial obstacles for families because parents with drug addictions are at risk of losing their jobs. Despite these difficulties, most children love their parents unconditionally. As a result, sober parents who try to protect children while children view this behavior as driving a wedge between parents.
The Factors involved in Custody Decisions
When it comes to custody decisions, courts try to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. In some cases, judges might decide that one person’s history of illegal drug use is not a significant threat to the child’s safety. Some of the other factors that will likely be considered in a custody hearing include:
- Each parent’s criminal and/or substance abuse history
- Each parent’s history in caring for the child
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- The capacity of each parent to provide necessary care to the child
- The relationship between each child and parent
The Possibility of Court Orders
It is important to remember that while courts have the ability to create orders that will permit the continued existence of the child/parent relationship, courts also have the ability to create orders to make certain that a child remains safe. In many situations in which a criminal case is pending, courts are likely to wait to make family court decisions until the criminal case is resolved.
The Most Common Result
In many situations in which one parent has a history of drug use, courts are likely to assign primary physical custody to the parent who does not have a history of drug use. The parent with a history of drug abuse will likely be assigned supervised parenting. Courts sometimes even order parents with a history of substance abuse to provide proof of participation in a substance abuse program. Courts sometimes re-evaluate existing custody orders after a parent has had sufficient time to sufficiently address a drug problem.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney
No matter if you are a current or recovering drug user who is fighting to maintain custody of your child or children or a parent who was previously married to someone with a drug problem and now engaged in a custody dispute, you should not hesitate to contact Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C. to speak with a knowledgeable custody lawyer. Our law firm even offers an initial free consultation.