Many people in New Jersey have the mistaken belief that a parent has a substance abuse problem will automatically be barred from getting custody rights with a child. While the courts will look at a history of substance abuse, judges generally will also work to preserve the child and parent relationship, often granting some custody or visitation rights despite the parent’s drug or alcohol problems.
When a parent has a substance abuse problem, the other parent can request the court impose certain conditions, such as supervised visitation, not driving the child or random drug and alcohol testing. However, requesting such restrictions does not necessarily mean they will be granted.
Courts consider what they believe is in the child’s best interests when making decisions in disputed child custody cases. In making their decisions, they look at a large number of factors. While substance abuse may be an issue, courts take all of the factors together to arrive at the larger picture. Courts do so with the idea that it is normally within a child’s best interests to continue having strong relationships with both parents.
Child custody disputes are often highly emotional for all involved. Those who are going through such a dispute may want to seek the help of a family law attorney. In some cases, legal counsel may find it advisable to attempt to negotiate a child custody agreement with the other parent. If that is not possible, or if it appears that the child may be in danger if the other parent is awarded custody or parenting time, the attorney may proceed to contest the matter in court.