Thursday, April 1, 2010

Emotional Problems Affecting Child Custody: Addictions

Parenting children in any given situation can be a difficult assignment. When the parents are faced with divorce, the parental responsibilities can take on a new and complicated dimension. If one adds to the experience of divorce a parent suffering from some form of addictive behavior, the parent-child relationship for that afflicted parent may require close supervision and limitations.

Child custody cases in California always focuses on what is in the best interest of the child(ren). For this reason, during the courts involvement in a child custody and visitation case,the family law judge is in a role of a de facto guardian of the child's best interest.

If a parent has emotional problems or addictions that can negatively impact the child and the parents relationship, the court will take steps to ensure that the child will be properly protected when the child has contact with the problem parent.

There are various addictions that can impact the safety and well being of a child. I am including some common examples to illustrate this problem and the means by which the court might deal with the problem.

GAMBLING: Typically viewed by the courts as a financial problem one can encounter in a divorce, this addiction can negatively impact a parenting relationship. If the parent with this illness allows gambling to be a primary recreational focus, children can be exposed to adult activities during their visitation time.

For example, taking the kids to the horse races for a Sunday outing could fall into the category of inappropriate parenting choices. Other examples of being driven by a gambling addiction would be spending long hours on gambling Internet sites and devoting minimal time to the child during scheduled visitation periods.

In cases like the ones described above, the judge might schedule a tightly structured visitation plan with an order prohibiting gambling while the child is in that parent's custodial care. The court may also order professional help such as counseling for the parent as a condition for continued visitation.

SEXUAL ADDICTION: This addiction has recently received a lot of press in high profile celebrity cases. The typical method of how this addiction may impact parenting rests with the likelihood that the child may be exposed to inappropriate adult behavior or pornographic materials.

A parent leading a promiscuous lifestyle such as having multiple sex partners, swing dating,and /or sex parties runs the risk of having very limited visitation with their child if that parent's behavior and lifestyle could expose the child to the parents sexual partners.

A family law judge may severely curtail a child's contact if a parent engages in viewing pornography and adult Internet sites. The concern here rests with the chance the child could be exposed to this conduct and pornographic material.

ALCOHOL and DRUG ADDICTION: These addictions can be the most difficult to manage in a child custody case. Parents with long standing substance abuse problems can be dangerous and unreliable parents. Even if the parent truly loves and wants to spend time with their child, the timeshare may be severely limited if the parent does not maintain sobriety. The family law judge will order counseling and proper rehab for the parent and expect full compliance with the courts orders if the parent expects to have a parenting relationship with their child.

Drug testing and reporting can be ordered by the court to ensure the addicted parent is clean and sober.Sadly, some custody cases end with the sober parent having sole legal and physical custody and the addicted parent having little or no time with the child if the addicted parent fails to maintain sobriety.

To get the best custody and visitation outcome, its always important to have a qualified attorney experienced in the field of family law assist you in bringing these parenting issues before the court.