Substance Abuse and Parenting Time

Substance abuse continues to be a problem all throughout the United States. Addiction to alcohol and drugs can ruin lives and tear families apart. Family law courts are especially concerned about parents with substance abuse issues.

Substance Abuse and Being an Unfit Parent

Family court judges are often required to decide how much time each parent should spend with the children of the relationship when the couple splits up. The behavior of the parents, including substance abuse issues, can and will certainly impact the judge’s eventual parenting time decision.

The most drastic step a judge can take is to declare that one of the parents is not a fit parent. This may mean the parent is not allowed to have any parenting time with the child. In the most extreme cases, the parental rights could be terminated, and the parent would have no legal rights regarding the child.

Not all cases of substance abuse are enough to cause a finding of a parent being unfit. A judge will have to look to the unique circumstances of each case. Judges will take into account the type of addiction, the level of responsibility the parent is taking for their issues, and the safety of the child.

Best Interests of the Child

The judge will have to make a decision that is in the best interest of the child. Often, it is in the child’s best interest to have a healthy relationship with both parents. But, if one parent exposes children to illegal activity, including drug use, or is not competent to parent because of substance abuse issues, the court may find it is in the best interest of the child to only have supervised parenting time, or even no parenting time at all.

Parenting Time Options

A court has many options when it comes to awarding parenting time. Absent a negotiated agreement, the court allocates parenting time and parental responsibilities between the parents. Judges can require that parenting time only happen in a neutral location, under the supervision of someone else, and that the parent be sober.

Parenting time does not have to remain permanently fixed after an initial ruling. If there are significant changes in circumstances, such as rehabilitation from substance abuse, or relapse into drug or alcohol addiction, one parent can petition the court for a modification of the parenting time order.

If you have questions about parenting time, custody, or any other family law issue, you need to speak with an experienced Orland Park family law attorney. Call 708-518-8200 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. When it comes to your children, you cannot afford to take chances.