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Recovering alcoholics don’t have to lose custody in divorce

| Jun 15, 2021 | Child Custody |

You worked hard to get sober and stay sober. However, your marriage didn’t survive your drinking. Or maybe your divorce has nothing to do with your alcoholism. You and your spouse just had insurmountable problems.

Now your soon-to-be-ex is trying to get sole custody of your child. They’re using your alcoholism as the reason why you can’t be trusted to care for your child or even have unsupervised visitations. 

You may have heard stories about parents losing custody of their children because of their alcoholism. However, every situation is different. Most family law judges would prefer that both parents remain in a child’s life if it’s safe for them to do so.

What factors do judges consider?

Any problems with alcohol or drugs, if brought to the court’s attention, will be a factor in determining custody. However, a judge will likely dig deeper and determine things like the following:

  • Has your drinking ever led to abuse or neglect? If so, what happened and how long ago did it occur?
  • Have you acknowledged your drinking problem and gotten help? This could include checking into a recovery facility, joining a 12-step program, getting counseling or some combination of these.
  • How long have you been sober? If you’ve been sober for a few years, your past drinking is less likely to be an issue in determining custody than if you stopped drinking a few weeks ago. If you’ve been sober a decade, it may not be a factor at all.

Sometimes a person in long-term recovery is the better parent because they’ve worked hard on themselves. They’ve recognized how they previously failed their family and committed to being a good parent.

What should you do now?

None of this means you may not have to fight to get the custody rights you deserve and that are in your child’s best interests. It’s important to do whatever you need to in order to present the most effective possible case and protect your parental rights.

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