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Protecting your child when the other parent has addiction issues

When one parent is an addict, divorce and child custody issues can become extremely complicated. Whether one parent is abusing alcohol, drugs or both, it puts the other parent in a precarious situation where he or she has a responsibility to protect his or her child from the danger the substance-abusing parent poses. Talking to your child is the most important thing you can do.

Helping your child stay safe

The first steps in protecting your child should be to help him or her stay safe. The court may have granted shared physical custody. The child needs to understand how to avoid dangerous situations when he or she is with the other parent. Is mom or dad getting behind the wheel after drinking? What do you do then? Teach your child proper responses to all possible dangerous situations.

Helping your child understand

Beyond maintaining their safety, children must also learn about what is going on with the other parent. They may need to know that it is not their fault that the other parent is drinking or taking drugs. Offer your child the support and space he or she needs to discuss what he or she is witnessing.

Minimizing or ending contact with an addict parent

You can ask the court to take action to help protect your child from the risk posed by a substance-abusing parent. The court can modify child custody orders to:

  • Require supervision during visitation
  • End visitation
  • Terminate parental rights

Pursuing these modifications can be a challenge. Working with an experienced attorney can help ensure that you are able to present the types of evidence the court is looking for to help them justify such a difficult decision as cutting a parent out of a child's life.

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