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Helton Law Firm, PLLC

What to do if one parent abuses alcohol or drugs

A Tennessee parent who is going through a divorce might become concerned about the other parent's substance abuse. If this it the case, the parent should bring it up in the custody hearing. The judge will look into the allegations and consider this information in determining which parent should get primary physical custody or whether they will share joint custody. The main concern of the court will be how the substance abuse affects the child.

However, a parent might become concerned about substance abuse after a custody agreement is already in place. The parent's response may depend upon the seriousness of the situation. If the child is in danger, the parent might want to take out a restraining order against the other parent. It might also be necessary to return to court in order to get the custody and visitation agreement changed.

A parent who has documentation that proves the parent is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and that it is negatively affecting the child should bring that to court. A judge might order supervised visitation for the parent who has substance abuse issues. This could change if the parent successfully completes a rehabilitation program.

During a child custody hearing, a parent should keep the best interests of the child in mind just as a judge does. Doing so might even increase the likelihood of obtaining custody. A parent who appears to be able to set aside emotions about the other parent and do what is best for the child may make a better impression on the judge than a parent who appears determined to paint the other parent in an unflattering light. Outside of extenuating circumstances such as substance abuse, parents should work toward a cooperative relationship with each another.

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