Custody Challenges when One Parent Has Addiction Issues
Recently, there have been several major newspapers reporting that one reason the heroin trade is flourishing in this country, and certainly within Texas, is because every day, new people are introduced and ultimately become addicted to the drug. Perhaps most startling is the realization that many heroin addicts are the same ones who, months or years earlier, were injured and were prescribed powerful painkillers. For many, they became addicted but soon realized it was too expensive. Enter heroin. Addiction remains one of the biggest societal challenges in this country. From a family law perspective, the children are the ones who have no say over what Mom and/or Dad are doing, yet their lives will forever be changed because of those choices. This is just the beginning of the custody challenges one may face.
Many fathers had no choice but to watch from a distance as their exes developed substance abuse problems, all the while feeling as though their hands were tired. Those scenarios are not as common as they once were, as more fathers began seeking – and winning – custody of their children. In fact, a recent NIH study revealed parental substance abuse being the number one most common predictor of a child being removed from the primary parent’s home. Still, many children witness any number of disturbing events in the meantime. Witnessing those types of experiences – seeing a parent with a needle, hearing frightening noises in the middle of the night only to see Mom with a black eye the next morning or facing the police on a regular basis due to loud and even violent fights in the home – can shape a child’s future and often in a very negative way. From the report:
“Demographic factors such as poor education, teen pregnancy, single parenthood, and chronic unemployment also place substance-abusing women at greater risk for losing child custody. Maternal psychosocial risk, including substance abuse severity and comorbid psychopathology, also predicts higher rates of children’s out-of-home placement among substance-abusing women.”
So what should fathers do who are concerned about the safety and well-being of their children? Without question, the first call you should make is to a qualified Texas family law attorney who understands the intricacies of our state’s legal system. I’ve built my career based on helping fathers make the most of their relationships with their children and sometimes, that includes ensuring those children are safely out of harm’s way – even if it’s a parent causing the harm.
While it’s challenging and often overwhelming, the focus is always on the little ones who may feel as though they have no voice. Ideally, the parent struggling with substance abuse will reach out for help in order to rebuild the relationship with their children.
If this is a scenario that is currently playing out in your life and the lives of your children, it’s important to prepare before going into court. Judges often want to know the type of relationship the children have with the sober parent, how involved the parent is and whether or not a safe and secure environment is in place. There are times when therapy is encouraged or even ordered so that the children can once again begin to thrive, fully trusting in their changing environment. To learn more, contact Boyd Family Law today to schedule a consultation.