Substance abuse can affect how courts establish or modify custody and visitation orders in New Jersey. If you are a parent worried about how the abuse of alcohol and substances can affect the order, there are things you should know.
The best interest of the child is the standard
As with any other child custody decision made by the court, the best interest of the child is the main standard. In cases of substance abuse, the courts will consider several factors, including:
The history of the parent’s substance abuse
How the parent has been fulfilling their parental responsibilities while using
Concerns over the child’s safety raise and supported by the other parent
In case of past abuse, if the parent has changed their situation or completed a substance rehabilitation program
What you can do
If you are the parent who is concerned about your ex-spouse’s substance abuse, you should raise your concern with the court. You should also gather evidence about the other parent’s substance abuse. This evidence can include arrest records for DUI charges or police incident reports related to the parent’s behavior. If you are worried about your child’s safety, you might consider refusing to allow the visitation and then alert the court about your reasons or you can file a restraining order.
What the court will do
If the issue of substance abuse is raised before the court makes a decision about custody, the court will order an investigation into the concerns to decide how to grant custody and visitation. If the concerns are raised after an order has been established, the court can modify the order, including changing parenting time and requiring supervised visitations in a safe place.
Your child’s safety and best interests will always come first when decisions are being made about custody and visitation. You might be able to protect your child is by being aware, gathering evidence and bringing your concerns to the court.