Florida law allows both parents to be awarded time with their children after a divorce or separation. But, if a parent is found unfit, they may have limited time sharing, supervised visits or not be granted any visitation. Behaviors that pose a risk to the child – such as neglect, sexual or physical abuse and a history of domestic violence – often result in these limited visitations.
Substance abuse problems can also compromise a parent’s ability to care for their child; therefore, the court may consider that parent unfit for custody and limit their visitation. If you suspect your ex or co-parent of substance abuse issues, proving it in court is not as easy as you may think – and the law is unclear as to how the courts should treat these situations.
Proving Your Allegations
If you allege that your spouse has a drug or alcohol problem, you will need to prove it. Florida courts are required to take all substance abuse allegations seriously, but they will require evidence that the co-parent does have a substance abuse problem. Because this type of allegation is often used falsely to attempt how much time one parent spends with the children, the courts will heavily scrutinize your evidence.
If you suspect your co-parent of drug or alcohol abuse, you will want to discuss your concerns with your divorce attorney. Then, your attorney will take several steps to prove that there is a valid substance abuse problem, such as:
- Request an order from the court for alcohol or drug tests;
- Showing evidence that there is a history of substance abuse;
- Providing witness testimony;
- Requesting the appointment of an advocate for the children called a Guardian Ad Litem
Unfortunately, even if you have evidence proving there is a substance abuse problem, you may not automatically qualify for supervised time-sharing. Screening tests can come back negative, and if the parent has successfully completed rehabilitation for their substance abuse problem, the court may consider them fit.
Also, the co-parent may be great at hiding their drug or alcohol abuse problem – after all, they have spent years fooling employers and others.
The Best Interest of the Child
Ultimately, the courts will consider the best interests of the child in these types of cases. They will weigh the possibility of relapse if the parent has completed a rehabilitation program as well as predict the future needs of the child – and whether or not a parent with a history of substance abuse can meet those needs.
Divorcing a Spouse with a History of Substance Abuse? Contact a Florida Family Lawyer Today
Divorcing a spouse with a history of drug or alcohol abuse is complex. You need an attorney that can help you prove your allegations and ensure your spouse does not manipulate the courts. The attorneys at McMichen, Cinami & Demps are here to assist you with your case. Call us for a consultation by calling 407-898-2161 or filling out an online contact form.