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How substance abuse affects child custody

On Behalf of | Jul 16, 2021 | Blog, Child Custody

A parent’s history of substance abuse is one of the factors that can affect custody decisions in Texas. Whether that parent’s abuse is in the past or still going on, courts will consider it when establishing custody and visitation orders.

Before custody is established

When deciding custody and visitation, courts will focus on the best interest of the child to determine if parents will share custody or if there will be a custodial parent and a non-custodial parent with visitation. If you believe that your ex-spouse is abusing substances or has in the past, you should make the court aware of this. The court will then order the allegations investigated to determine the impact of the substance abuse on the person’s ability to parent their child.

After a custody order has already been issued

If there is a custody order in place but you believe that your ex-spouse has begun abusing substances, you can bring it up in a hearing. If someone has reported the abuse to the state’s Child Protective Services, then the court may investigate and modify the custody order. The courts might choose one of several options, including:

  • Limit the parent’s contact with the child through a new custody and visitation order
  • Order supervised visitations with a third party present during the visits, such as a social worker or another family member
  • Order that supervised visitations continue until the parent can provide evidence of having completed a rehabilitation program or that the circumstances around their abuse have changed positively

In extreme cases where you believe your child’s safety is threatened, you can refuse visitation until a new court order is issued. You can also seek an order of protection against your ex-spouse.

Start gathering evidence that supports your suspicions about your ex-spouse’s substance abuse as soon as you begin suspecting it. You can then use this evidence in court as you petition for the court to modify the order.