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How Substance Abuse Affects Child Custody


Millions of people across the country suffer from some form of substance abuse, and it can have a devastating effect on families, especially those with children. If your spouse has a substance abuse problem and you are filing for divorce, it is important to know that you have legal options to protect your children from these issues when it comes to child custody and visitation in Florida. To learn more about how substance abuse might affect the outcome of your child custody case, talk to the law office of Blair H. Chan, III in Tampa Bay today to schedule an initial consultation.

Endangering Your Children

Alcoholism, opioid addiction, and other forms of substance abuse can create a dangerous environment for your children, particularly during a separation or divorce when the parent suffering from substance abuse may be left alone with your children. Substance abuse causes cognitive impairment that may render the parent unable to react in an emergency or inadvertently endanger their child while in their care. Changes in perception, mood, concentration level, and other behavioral changes can also lead to psychological or physical abuse of the children while the parent is under the influence of these substances.

Proving Substance Abuse

In order to prove that your spouse has a substance abuse problem during your divorce, presenting compelling evidence to the court is critical. Collect all copies of police reports, accident reports, DUI charges, criminal drug possession charges, and any other documentation that proves a history of substance abuse. Photos or videos that show illicit substances in the open where children can reach them or that show the court the behavior of your spouse while under the influence can also be compelling. You may also need to file a restraining order if your spouse’s behavior while under the influence is harmful or threatening.

Court Options

The court in Florida has a few options when it comes to determining child custody or visitation when a parent is suffering from substance abuse. If the substance abuse issues are extreme, the court may cut off contact between the parent and their children or terminate parental rights. This would mean that the parent has no legal right to seek visitation or custody of the children.

Another option is to require supervised visitation with that parent, where a responsible third party such as a social worker supervises the interactions between parent and child. In order to graduate to unsupervised visitation and other custody options, the court may order that the parent suffering from substance abuse participate in drug rehabilitation, attend therapy, or complete some other form of substance abuse treatment first.

Call or Contact Our Office Now

If you are concerned about your spouse’s substance abuse issues during your divorce and how to protect your children in a custody case, contact a Tampa family lawyer at the office of Blair H. Chan, III today to schedule an initial consultation of your case.


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