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Why a custody battle with a spouse in recovery may not be wise

If you're divorcing a spouse who has had alcohol and/or drug abuse issues and the two of you have children, it's only natural that your concern for their safety and well-being is paramount. You may have determined that you want full custody of the kids -- particularly if your co-parent is still struggling with substance abuse or maybe doesn't believe that they have a problem. Even if your co-parent is in recovery, you may be concerned about a relapse.

Certainly, if your co-parent's substance abuse issues have caused them to harm or neglect your children or abuse them physically, verbally or emotionally, you may have a valid case for seeking sole custody for yourself with supervised visits only for your co-parent.

However, what if they've gotten sober and are committed to recovery? It's worth considering whether you really want to go through a custody battle.

Researchers have found that children whose parents have a high-conflict divorce experience some of the same emotional issues as children who are abused or neglected. These include sleep disorders, anxiety and depression. Some develop problems like attachment disorders that can stay with them and impact their own relationships well into adulthood.

Further, a custody decision made by a judge may leave one or both parties feeling angry and resentful. That's not going to help someone who's already struggling with addiction. It certainly isn't good for the kids if they sense continued anger between their parents.

If you and your spouse are able to work out a custody arrangement on your own, with the help of your attorneys, you will likely be more satisfied. To achieve these results, you may want to consider mediation. If you're concerned about your co-parent's use of alcohol, there are remote alcohol monitoring systems that can help ensure that a parent is not drinking, either by random testing or testing during their parenting time.

Each situation is unique. Whether you're divorcing someone with a substance abuse issue or you're concerned about losing custody of your children due to your own use of alcohol and/or drugs, it's essential to discuss the situation honestly with your attorney. Together, you can then work toward seeking and what's best for your children.

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