Substance abuse continues to be a problem that affects tens of millions of families across the United States. While the statistics can be frightening, they mean nothing to the individuals who have to deal with the very real ramifications of drug and alcohol abuse. It’s important to realize, too, that these addiction issues have ripple effects, impacting everyone around the user. This includes children who may be in their care.
The effects of exposure to parental substance abuse
If you’re reading this post, you’re probably concerned that your child is in the crosshairs of parental substance abuse. It’s a scary situation, leaving you terrified that something horrible is going to happen to your child. Your feelings are validated. After all, exposure to parental substance abuse can have any of the following negative impacts on a child:
- Increased risk of neglect
- Increased risk of abuse
- Development of behavioral issues
- Decreased school performance
- Access to illicit and dangerous substances
- Onset of excessive worry and guilt
- Development of an enveloping sense of shame
- Onset of persistent fear
These are just some of the impacts that your child may experience if they’re being exposed to parental substance abuse. Keep in mind, too, that these effects can be long lasting, perhaps even influencing their behavior, demeanor and psychological well-being into adulthood.
What can you do to protect your child?
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to try to keep your child safe. This typically involves filing a motion for custody modification, where you ask the court to either grant you sole physical custody or at least restrict the other parent’s access to the child, such as by making visitation supervised.
But if you want to succeed with your motion, you’ll need to have evidence and persuasive legal arguments because your child’s other parent probably isn’t going to sit back and accept whatever you’re proposing. So, as you move forward, consider looking for evidence in the following places:
- Police reports
- Criminal case histories
- Substance abuse treatment records
- Drug screen results
- Witness accounts
- Your child’s statements
- Opinions from your child’s therapist
- Your own observations
- Social media posts
Some of this information is easier to get than others. Substance abuse treatment records, for example, have high levels of confidentiality protections, making them harder to access. However, there may be legal strategies that you can implement to get your hands on the information that you need to build your case.
Keep your child’s best interests in mind
It’s crucial to remember that the court is ultimately going to base its decision on what it believes to be in the child’s best interests. Therefore, even if you’re mad at the other parent and want to completely cut off their access to your child, you should think through whether that’s really what’s best for you kid. After all, there’s a good chance that they probably love and care about the other parent.
Therefore, as you determine what to request from the court, be sure to think about how the court may analyze your child’s best interests.
Do you need a helping hand?
Child custody disputes are usually emotional. This can make it difficult to see things from an objective legal standpoint, and it can lead to more conflict than you really want. But you can ease the burden and reduce the conflict that you have to face by working with a legal professional.
An attorney who has proven themselves successful in handling these types of cases can help you craft the legal strategy that you need on your side to protect your child while taking the burden off of your shoulders. If you want to know more about what that process looks like and how an attorney may be able to help you with your child custody dispute, please consider researching your representation options so that you can choose the one that’s right for you.