If you’re going to be sharing custody of your children with a co-parent who has a history of alcohol abuse, it’s wise to include provisions in your parenting plan regarding the use of alcohol and perhaps an alcohol monitoring system. Even if the parent in question doesn’t agree to it, you make ask the court to order some type of monitoring.
Unless there’s been a history of family violence, courts typically want both parents to maintain a presence in their children’s lives. A parenting plan that addresses a parent’s use of alcohol is typically designed to protect a child’s safety and well-being while allowing them to spend time with their parent.
There are a number of alcohol monitoring systems available that allow the other parent, the court and perhaps a social worker or other professional access to the test results. The tests are similar to a Breathalyzer.
A parenting plan that incorporates alcohol monitoring may mandate testing only during parenting time — and usually in the hours leading up to it. This might be the method selected if a parent doesn’t have an ongoing drinking problem but has a habit of overindulging on occasion to the point where they can’t properly care for their children.
If a parent is in recovery and has committed to remaining sober, a daily monitoring plan may be the better choice. Often, this type of monitoring can provide a powerful incentive for parents who have stopped drinking remain sober.
If you’re the parent who’s being asked – or perhaps ordered – to participate in an alcohol monitoring system, you might feel resentful and angry. It may feel like your ex is trying to control your life even though you’re no longer together. However, it’s worth considering it as a way to increase the amount of time you’re able to have with your children. It can provide reassurance to your co-parent and the court, but it can also show your children that you’ve made a commitment to change so that you can be a better parent.
Whichever side of this equation you’re on, your family law attorney can provide more information about addressing concerns about issues with alcohol in your parenting plan.