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Drug and alcohol addiction can ruin a marriage. It can ruin a family. It can ruin a life. Unfortunately, for those parents who are coping with an ex-spouse who has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, figuring out how to manage child custody can be complicated. You want to do what’s best for your children, but you may feel like your hands are tied due to your current court-ordered child custody agreement.
Whether your ex-spouse has recently developed a drug and alcohol problem or relapsed into an old addiction, the experienced and sensitive child custody attorneys at Charles R. Ullman & Associates in Raleigh can help. For 20 years, attorney Charles R. Ullman has focused his practice on helping parents resolve sensitive child custody issues, and he is board-certified by the North Carolina Bar as a specialist in family law. To schedule a confidential consultation today, call or fill out our online form.
When you start to suspect that your ex-spouse is abusing drugs or alcohol, there are a few steps you can take right away to protect your children while not violating your current custody agreement:
If possible, discuss the problem with your former spouse. Perhaps he or she can admit to the addiction and agree to a set of child custody schedule rules that allow you to check in on the children during the times they are not with you.
If they are old enough, talk to your children about safe behaviors. This may include explaining signs of intoxication and knowing when to avoid getting in the car with someone who has been drinking or using drugs. Make sure your children know they can always call you or another trusted adult if they feel unsafe. But beware: Talking to your children in too much detail about your ex-spouse could put them in a tough spot if they feel they are being asked to spy and report back.
Collect any evidence of the addiction putting the children in danger. This may include an arrest report on drug charges or a DUI, or evidence that your spouse’s dangerous behavior caused an injury to your child.
Talk to an experienced Raleigh child custody attorney. If the drug or alcohol abuse is putting your children in danger of serious and immediate injury, the attorney may request emergency custody for you. As a more permanent solution, the attorney will work on a motion to modify your child custody agreement through the court.
Coping with addiction and child custody issues can be scary, especially when you feel your children’s safety is at risk. But the experienced family law attorneys at Charles R. Ullman & Associates can help you document the change in circumstances and modify your child custody agreement to do what’s in the best interests of the children.
Contact us now to figure out the next steps you need to take.
If you currently share custody with an ex-spouse who has problems with drug abuse or alcohol addiction, a judge may agree to modify your child custody schedule to instead incorporate supervised visitation.
To ensure the children are safe during the supervised visits, the American Bar Association offers the following guidelines for judges to consider:
In the worst-case scenario, parents are coping with an ex-spouse who seems to have chosen a life of addiction over a life with his or her children. Although it’s heartbreaking to see a person you once loved go down this hole, you have to be strong for your children.
In some cases, a parent may consider trying to have their former spouse’s parental rights terminated. Particularly if you have remarried, and your current husband or wife would like to adopt your children, this would be a scenario that an experienced child custody lawyer would need to help you with.
Legal Aid of North Carolina outlines the following reasons that termination of parental rights may be considered:
Terminating parental rights is an extreme measure for those who are forced to cope with extreme circumstances. The decision is something you will need to prepare your children for to ensure they know that they will always be safe and loved.
When you are coping with the harsh realities of addiction and child custody issues, it is natural to want to shield your children from what is happening. However, being open and honest — in an age-appropriate way — is important, and it will help your children learn to cope, too.
It is imperative that you educate yourself about addiction and the disease first before talking to your children, so you can answer any questions they have and provide reassurance. The National Association for Children of Alcoholics suggests talking to children about the “seven C’s”:
I didn’t cause it.
I can’t cure it.
I can’t control it.
I can help take care of myself by
communicating my feelings,
making healthy choices,
and celebrating me.
No child custody arrangement is permanent. If you are worried that your ex-spouse’s drug abuse or alcohol addiction is putting your children in jeopardy and need help changing your child custody schedule, contact us today. The experienced Wade County child custody lawyers at Charles R. Ullman & Associates are dedicated to helping you fight for what’s in the best interests of your children.
Schedule a consultation with us now by calling or filling out our online contact form.
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