How Alcohol and Substance Abuse Affect Child Custody in Texas

Liquor being poured into glasses

When we ask prospective clients why they want a divorce, alcohol and substance abuse frequently comes up. It’s also one of the most common reasons parents give our Fort Worth law firm when their goal is to limit the other parent’s child custody and visitation rights. If you are afraid of losing your kids OR want to protect your kids from an alcoholic or drug-addicted parent, consider the following insight as you prepare for your child custody battle in Texas.

The best interest of the child is always paramount in Texas custody cases

Some parents think it should be easy to get sole custody in Texas when the other parent has a substance abuse problem—but it’s not that simple. The Texas family courts are very hesitant to prevent a child from seeing his or her parents, even when alcohol and drug use has been alleged. They believe most children benefit from having a relationship with both parents unless a parent poses a physical or emotional threat to the child.

If you’re a parent who wants to prevent the other parent from getting access to a child, you’ll need to provide solid evidence to prove a threat exists. Just because you say the other parent is a drunk doesn’t mean the judge will believe you or grant you an emergency custody order. You’ll need evidence in the form of photos, video, voice recordings, text or email messages, affidavits and police reports pertaining to public intoxication, driving under the influence, DUI with a child in the car or other evidence of egregious behavior.

In substance abuse custody cases, rehabilitation is a primary goal of the court in Texas

The good news for parents who have a substance abuse problem is that the court doesn’t want to prevent you from seeing your children forever. However, in order to be granted visitation, and ultimately some level of custody, you’re going to have to take steps to get sober and stay sober.

If the court agrees that you do have a substance abuse problem, you will be required to jump through hoops in order to gain more access to your children. Those “hoops” may include a treatment program, attending AA meetings, random drug testing (urine and hair follicle), using a breathalyzer device to activate your vehicle, supervised visitation to your child and other conditions.

Both sides need to have realistic expectations of their attorneys and themselves during substance abuse custody battles

Just like the Texas family court, rehabilitation is a goal of our firm as well. If you have a substance abuse problem, and we take your case, you will need to take the steps necessary to show that you deserve to regain custody or visitation rights of your kids. Just because you hire us to represent you and pay us, doesn’t mean we’ll help you get your kids back before you address your drug or alcohol issues. We also won’t turn you away if you have substance abuse issues and will do everything we can to help you get on the right path.

At the same time, the parent on the other side needs to understand that if and when the substance abuser does what is asked of them, and he or she gets and stays clean for a period of time, the court will likely be open to revisiting visitation and custody orders. If we’re representing you under those circumstances—and believe your ex has been rehabilitated—we will encourage you to be realistic and consider a long-term plan that is fair to all parties involved.

Wondering how substance abuse may affect your child custody concerns in Tarrant County?

The experienced family law attorneys at the Sisemore Law Firm in Fort Worth are here to help. To schedule a confidential case review with our founder Justin Sisemore, contact us by phone at (817) 336-4444 or visit our contact page to connect with us online.

Photo Source: Dylan de Jonge, Unsplash