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Alcohol abuse can impact custody agreements

by | Jun 17, 2021 | Child Custody |

The courts favor joint custody, and many child development experts agree that it is best when both parents are actively involved in raising the children. Nevertheless, a parent’s alcohol addiction can make family life even more complicated and stressful than parents simply going through a divorce. The most pressing concern is whether the parent can fulfill the vital job of keeping the children safe and loved.

Concern over the safety of the children can prompt a parent to take action, forcing them to prove or disprove alcohol abuse. It may be a known issue, perhaps contributing to the marriage’s demise, and should be addressed at the time of the divorce. There can be language in the agreement that stipulates that they can retain visitation privileges only as long they remain in control of their life and drinking.

How to prove it

Claims need to be substantiated to a reasonable degree if they are going to hold up, so there needs to be evidence. The parent may have a long and clear history of alcohol abuse or a pattern of addiction. Examples include:

  1. A court-mandated treatment program after a DUI;
  2. Other criminal actions involving excessive alcohol consumption;
  3. Medical records documenting complications from alcohol use;
  4. The parent may even agree that they abuse alcohol, furthering the claim; and
  5. Witnesses citing instances that make the parent an unreliable caregiver.

How to disprove it

Those with a history of alcohol abuse can argue that there is no current issue. They can do this by:

  1. Arguing that the previous problems were in the distant past;
  2. Offering to submit to tests that can detect alcohol use now and in the past – the EtG test detection goes back 80 days;
  3. Using a witness under oath who corroborates claims of sobriety; and/or
  4. Using a wireless breathalyzer that can provide scheduled or random results in real-time.

Wanting what’s best for the children

Alcoholism is a disease, and families should treat the ill with compassion. Nevertheless, parents should never compromise on the safety and well-being of their children. Couples who divorce may need to navigate this issue or make a modification to their divorce agreement. Those facing this challenge often find it helpful to work with an experienced, Board-Certified Family Law expert attorney who practices here in Texas. They can provide insight that helps to minimize the damaging impact alcohol abuse has upon families going through a divorce.