Alcohol and drug abuse can impact custody agreements

On Behalf of | Aug 18, 2021 | Child Custody

The Kentucky courts generally favor joint custody. This is because child development experts agree that it is generally in the children’s best interests to have both parents actively involved in raising them. Nevertheless, a parent’s history of alcohol or drug abuse is a red flag that can impact the custody agreement, parenting plan or visitation arrangements. The most vital issue here is whether the parent can provide a safe and caring environment.

Concern over child safety can prompt the other parent to take action, asking the parent to prove or disprove an addiction through testing. This issue may be a documented issue that contributed to the marriage’s demise, so the divorce agreement may have language stipulating visitation only if they have clean tests.

Claims need proof

The parent may have a history of abuse or addiction, and examples of proof include:

  • A DUI and subsequent court-mandated treatment program
  • Criminal actions involving drugs or alcohol
  • Medical records that document drug or alcohol use
  • Admission of abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Witnessing citing instances where the parent used or was an unreliable parent

Proving one’s innocence

A parent can prove that they do not or no longer have a problem:

  • Arguing that their problem is in the distant past
  • Offering to take tests – an EtG alcohol test goes back 80 days
  • Using a wireless monitoring system to provide scheduled or random readings
  • Having a witness testify on their behalf under oath

Weighing the needs of the family

Addiction is a disease where the ill should be treated with compassion. However, a child’s health and well-being are the priority. The divorce may need to begin with limited visitation. Still, there ideally will be a time when the family can revisit the issue and perhaps legally modify the visitation or custody agreement to reflect the present-day circumstances rather than the distant past.