How does addiction affect custody?

In some cases of divorce, or when the parents never married, addiction can be one of the factors in the relationship’s disintegration. But no matter what substance is involved, when there are children from the union, a parent’s drug and alcohol addiction can affect their ability to supervise and effectively parent their sons and daughters.

If you are struggling with addiction or trying to co-parent kids with a parent abusing substances who is not actively pursuing recovery, the following information may prove useful.

Courts can strip parents of their custodial rights

While California family law courts are loath to do so, if a parent repeatedly shows that they prioritize getting drunk or high over safely rearing their children, the courts have the power to remove the children from the addicted parent’s custody. In the most extreme cases, they can terminate a parent’s custody of their children. However, they will likely choose a less draconian measure, such as enforcing supervised visitation until the addict sobers up.

If I go to rehab, will I lose my kids?

To be blunt, in the short term, you could. But do not let that deter you, as the courts look favorably upon parents who are motivated enough to self-address their substance abuse issues. In-patient rehab for parents requires another competent adult to step into the custodial role while the addicted parent addresses their substance abuse issues.

You can work with legal counsel to devise a temporary custody transfer during your in-patient stay at a rehab facility. Following discharge, it’s likely you may need to stipulate that you will take and pass random and pre-custody drug or alcohol tests in order to be reunited with your children.