If you’re divorcing a spouse with an alcohol and/or drug problem, you already know that parenting with someone with a substance abuse issue can be extremely challenging – especially if they don’t accept that they have a problem or haven’t taken steps to address it.
If your co-parent’s use of alcohol or drugs has led to violence or other harm to your child, you certainly can and should seek restrictions to their parental access, like sole physical custody and supervised parenting time.
What if the situation hasn’t been that serious – yet? You’re still concerned that your co-parent could pass out and leave your child to fend for themselves or get so stoned that they can’t help them with homework.
Including a provision in your parenting plan
If your soon-to-be ex is a good parent when they’re sober and you’d rather not try to limit their access to your child, you may want to seek a “No Alcohol or Drugs During Parenting Time” provision in your parenting plan. If you suggest a provision that applies to both of you, they may be less defensive about it.
If your co-parent refuses to agree to this requirement, you’ll need to have a judge decide. That will likely require producing some evidence that your co-parent has a problem that can affect your child’s safety and well-being. Judges are required to do what’s in a child’s best interests, and being around a parent who’s under the influence certainly isn’t.
If your co-parent has a serious alcohol or drug problem, they likely won’t be able to refrain from drinking or using while they have their child for any period of time. This kind of parenting provision could actually spur them to stop and seek treatment or at least a 12-step program.
While this isn’t an uncommon problem, each family’s situation is highly unique. Even if you’ve never talked to anyone about your co-parent’s problem, you need to share it and your concerns with your legal team. This will help you work towards a parenting plan and other agreements that are best for your child.