Can Drug or Alcohol Abuse Affect Child Custody in Your Divorce?

For many divorcing couples, the two biggest points of contention are how to divide the marital assets and how to handle child custody and visitation. Many times, both parents want to play a substantial role in the lives of the children. That can lead to issues such as both parents seeking sole custody. Other times, parents may see gaining custody as a way to “win” in a divorce. However, in some cases, one parent may seek sole or primary custody to protect the children.

There are many factors that can impact both the outcome of your child custody hearings and what is truly best for your children. Spousal abuse and child abuse, if documented, can certainly impact the decision of the courts. However, abuse isn’t the only issue that can complicate or alter the outcome of child custody proceedings in Texas. Understanding Texas custody laws can help you better predict the potential outcomes of your divorce.

Texas custody laws focus on the best interest of the child

Child custody in Texas is called conservatorship. There are two kinds typically arranged in a divorce. Your family could end up with a situation involving joint managing conservatorship, which is the legal way of expressing joint or shared custody, or sole managing conservatorship, which is sole custody. Typically, even in situations where one parent receives sole managing conservatorship, the other parent has a right to visitation, possibly even overnight stays.

The courts will look at a variety of factors when determining what is best for your family, including the ability of either parent to provide a stable household and life, the relationship between the parents and children, the desires of the children (if they are old enough to have a say), any special mental health, educational or medical needs of your child and any history of abuse or neglect.

The courts may consider drug or alcohol abuse neglect

When a parent who has custody or visitation engages in alcohol or drug abuse, he or she cannot adequately protect and care for the children. If an emergency occurs, for example, clear decision-making may not be possible.

Additionally, the intoxicated parent will not be able to safely drive the child to seek medical attention. Beyond that, substance abuse may increase the risk of child abuse in some, as well as setting a poor example for the children about adult behavior.

If there is evidence to support a claim of a serious, ongoing drug or alcohol issue with your spouse, the courts could factor that information into the final decision about custody for your children. After all, the best interests of the children will typically involve care from a parent who is sober and able to address their needs as they arise.

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