How to Navigate Custody Issues for Parents in Alcohol Recovery

Issues involving an alcoholic parent and child custody can become contentious and complex. When lawyers, judges and Child Protective Services become involved, there will be consequences for the alcoholic parent. In these instances child custody proceedings can have unpredictable endings, depending on the parent’s level of dedication to their rehab and recovery.

The Courts and Alcoholic Parents

In general, the legal system takes a dim view of child neglect traceable to substance abuse. An addicted parent is likely to find little sympathy in court if testimony in a custody case proves such neglect has occurred. However, judges are not inclined to separate families or terminate parental rights on a long-term or permanent basis. If an alcoholic has lost visitation or custodial rights to their children, a sincere effort to get clean and sober has a very good chance of being rewarded—unless there was some sort of physical abuse involved or a child was otherwise injured as a direct result of a parent’s actions. What is in the best interest of the child is always the court’s primary concern. Regardless of past mistakes, parents undergoing treatment for addiction will usually have their prior rights restored, if they demonstrate that they can provide a stable and safe home environment.

The Transition to Sobriety and the Return of Parental Rights

An alcoholic parent who loses visitation or custody rights should enter rehab immediately, if they have not already done so. But even then they will not be given the benefit of the doubt. Instead, they must earn it. They must show that their attempts to overcome their alcohol dependency are real and not just a tactic to get their children back. This means they will have to participate in organized aftercare programs even after their initial stint in an addiction treatment center has been completed. When a judge is convinced a change in status is in order, it will likely occur gradually. Supervised visitations will be granted first and, if they go well, full custody rights may be restored within a few weeks’ time. There is no guarantee; however, the parent’s commitment to sobriety must remain firm, and relapses can have significant consequences if the child’s safety was endangered in any way.

Recover from Alcoholism and Recover Your Family

If you are in recovery for alcoholism and are concerned that your former spouse or partner may contest your child custody rights, you should seek legal assistance immediately. Your attorney will explain your situation in detail and help you deal effectively and proactively with any legal challenges you might face. Should you find yourself in this predicament there is no reason to panic. As long as your efforts to recover from your substance abuse problem are sincere, in the end, the law will be on your side. The primary concern of those within the legal system, like yours, is the welfare of your family.   Sources Jackson White Attorneys at Law: Addictions and Child Custody

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