One of the most sensitive and challenging issues to navigate in a divorce or separation case is that of child custody. Not only are parents often very emotionally involved, but the court will also highly scrutinize the actions of both parents when making a determination about the child’s best interests. One thing that a court will surely consider is any history of substance abuse. Here’s a look into how substance abuse can impact a child custody case in Massachusetts—

Custody Considerations for a Parent with a History of Substance Abuse

If a parent has a history of substance abuse and is involved in a child custody hearing, they should be fully aware that their substance abuse will likely be brought up by the other parent, who will attempt to use their history against them. As such, it is very important that any parent seeking custody has evidence that they currently are not using, have been clean for a significant amount of time, and that their current behavior will not endanger the child in any way and will instead contribute to the child’s physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing. 

How Substance Abuse Affects a Child Custody Hearing

When there is a history of substance abuse in one or both parents, a judge must consider this when determining the safety and best interests of the child. Early on in the case, the judge will make a determination about drug and alcohol testing, which may be required. 

If testing indicates that there is any current use, this could be used against the using parent. Even if there is no current use, the other parent may try to make a case that the formerly using parent’s history creates a threat to the child’s welfare. This could result in the court only granting physical custody to one parent with limited visitation rights to the other. 

How to Manage Allegations of Alcohol or Drug Use During a Child Custody Case

As mentioned above, one of the best ways to manage allegations of substance use or abuse during a child custody case is to have solid evidence that you are not using and that any history of your abuse will not impact your ability to care for your child. In addition to a clean drug test, proof of attending rehabilitative services, maintaining a job, participating in your community, and providing a safe and loving environment for your child will all be important. 

Get Help from Attorney Heather M. Ward

If you are worried about how your history of substance abuse may be used against you in a child custody hearing, or if you are a parent who is worried about your ex’s use of drugs and alcohol, you need a legal advocate on your side. At The Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our experienced Massachusetts family law attorney can help. For a consultation where you can learn more about your legal options, reach out to us online or call (617) 903-8955 today.