For many people who are battling drug and/or alcohol addiction, spending time in an inpatient rehabilitation facility is their best chance for getting clean and sober. However, if you’re a parent, checking into rehab may mean losing custody of your children — at least temporarily.
Single parents whose co-parents aren’t in the picture or who are unable to provide a temporary home for their kids because they have own issues may need to turn to other trusted family members to take on the responsibility. If they have no one, the state’s child services professionals may need to find them a foster home.
If you share custody of your children with your co-parent, you may be concerned that checking into a rehab facility will cost you all custody rights. However, it all depends on the situation. If you have limited custody or visitation because of your substance abuse issues, completing a rehabilitation program can get you greater access to your kids in the long run, even if it means not seeing them for a time.
Courts typically want children to have a relationship with both parents, as long as it can be a healthy and safe one. By entering a recovery program, you’re showing the court, as well as your co-parent and your children, that you recognize that you have a problem and are doing the hard work necessary to deal with it.
You shouldn’t expect to gain the custody rights you’re seeking immediately after returning home from rehab. You’ll likely need to show that you’re continuing to get psychological treatment and/or are part of a 12-step program. You may need to undergo random or regular drug and alcohol testing to prove that you are staying clean. However, as long as you don’t relapse, your chances of gaining greater custody rights from the court increase — even if your co-parent objects.
Custody rights are one thing, but rebuilding trust is quite another. Depending on how much your kids were impacted by your addiction, you may still have a long road ahead of you in rebuilding their trust and helping them feel safe around you.
Regardless of where you are in the recovery process, it’s wise to talk to a family law attorney about how best to go about seeking greater access to your children so that you can begin to rebuild your relationships.