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Can Substance Abuse Impact Child Custody in MA?


Child custody is usually one of the most sensitive matters in Massachusetts divorce cases where minor children are involved. The family law courts in the state will critically evaluate various factors before determining which parent gets the primary custody of the child.

Substance abuse allegations made by one parent against the other can influence the custody and visitation decisions provided the court finds that there is evidence to support those claims. Even after the divorce is final and you have shared custody of your child, you could face a drug or alcohol abuse-related custody modification case from the co-parent.

If the court determines that your habit of substance abuse poses danger to your child, your custody or visitation rights could be curtailed or even fully revoked. To protect your parental rights in a divorce, you should speak to divorce lawyer Jay Davis who have over 20 years of experience in successfully handling child custody disputes. Call Davis Law Group in Massachusetts now at (617) 752-6216 to schedule a free consultation.

How Does the Court Determine Substance Abuse?

The family law court in MA will have some discretion in ordering a test for substance abuse either for one or both parents. You may be ordered to submit a urine sample immediately for lab analysis, or in some cases, the court may give you one or two days to get the test done.

The judge will decide what type of tests must be performed and which particular prohibited drugs should be tested. Sometimes a hair follicle test may also be ordered apart from urine test to obtain more valid results. Apart from investigating the claim of drug or alcohol abuse, the judge will separately evaluate whether this behavior of the parent puts the child in harm’s way.

Substance Abuse Claim During Divorce Proceedings

Although a co-parent may file a request for a child custody modification order after the divorce is final, the most effective way to make a case for child custody is at the time of the initial divorce proceeding. Establishing evidence of a history of substance abuse as well as continuing problems with drugs or alcohol against an ex-spouse can strongly influence the child custody order.

If one parent is able to convince the court that persisting incidents of substance abuse are a threat to the child’s welfare, the court in MA may deny physical custody to the other parent. In extreme cases, even legal custody may be denied. If you are faced with this type of legal challenge, divorce attorney Jay Davis can help.

At Davis Law Group, our legal team may try to establish before the court that you have entered rehab or you are seeking professional treatment and counseling. By showing your commitment as a responsible parent, we could argue for joint legal custody and eventually joint physical custody, depending on your unique situation and your parental goals.

On the other hand, if you are seeking custody of your child on the basis of substance abuse allegations against the co-parent, Jay Davis can help you prove your case in court in order to win a favorable child custody arrangement or parenting plan. Call our office today at (617) 752-6216 to set up a no-obligation consultation.

Visitation Rights in Case of Drug or Alcohol Abuse

In Massachusetts, if physical custody is granted to one parent, the family law judge will usually grant at least visitation rights to the other parent. However, if it is proved in court that the parent is struggling with a continuing problem of substance abuse, even the visitation rights can be limited or revoked. Supervised visitation may be ordered in some of these cases.

Family law courts in MA take substance issues very seriously where minor children are involved. The court’s primary focus in these cases is to ensure that the child’s best interests are protected under all circumstances. Therefore, the loss of child custody and visitation rights is a real risk in a situation where substance abuse allegations against a parent are proved.

Rehab is a Credible Solution to Regain Custody

Before the judge grants you child custody or visitation rights in the backdrop of your substance abuse problem, they may ask you to obtain professional treatment or rehabilitation. The appropriate treatment will be determined by a medical expert according to the severity of the addiction.

If your problem is found to be minor in nature, you may only be required to seek outpatient rehab or attend the meetings of Narcotics Anonymous / Alcoholics Anonymous or such other support groups. Inpatient treatment may be required if the addiction is more severe.

Once you are able to establish before the court that you have successfully completed your treatment and medical evidence shows that you are free from addiction, you could achieve the restoration of your custody and visitation rights.

Schedule a Consultation with Divorce Attorney Jay Davis

Whether you are facing legal hurdles related to child custody or visitation because of your history of substance abuse, or you are a worried parent seeking sole custody due to the co-parent’s substance abuse issues, either way, you should contact Davis Law Group in Massachusetts as soon as possible.

Experienced child custody lawyer Jay Davis will help you protect your parental rights as well as ensure that your child’s best interests are upheld. Call us today at (617) 752-6216 to schedule a free consultation.

The post Can Substance Abuse Impact Child Custody in MA? first appeared on Davis Law Group.
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