How Does Alcohol Abuse Affect Parenting Plans?
These days, state law in Florida and elsewhere strongly encourages children splitting their time 50-50 with parents in the event of divorce because “frequent and continuing contact with both parents” is presumptively in their best interest, but what about circumstances where that is not in their best interest; for example, if there is alcohol addiction on one side, or obvious attempts by one parent to alienate the children against the other parent?
Fortunately, the law sets forth a number of factors to take into account when determining parenting and time sharing, including anything and everything that can affect “the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family,” including the capacity and disposition of each parent to put the child’s needs first, the stability of the environment each parent can provide, the moral fitness of each parent, the preference of the child, the ability to maintain an environment that is free of substance abuse, and other factors.
Modification of an Existing Plan
If alcohol or other addiction has become an issue and was not when time sharing and parenting plans were first agreed to, the law does allow for the parenting plan to be modified so as to add in time that is supervised and safety-focused. This not only includes visitation that is always supervised, but a prohibition on contact with that parent, decision-making power, overnight stays, transporting the child, attendance at the child’s activities, physical discipline, and even conditional visitation time; based on the parent refraining from drinking alcohol at least 24 hours in advance, use of a breathalyzer, etc.
Regardless, if you have concerns about your child’s parent suffering from alcohol addiction, working with an attorney to ensure that you and your child are safe is imperative. Your attorney can obtain court orders and plan modifications based on a change of circumstances.
It is also important in terms of approaching the court about the issue and evidence. When one party has concerns about a substance abuse issue with the other party, courts can order alcohol and/or drug testing via urine, hair, nail, breath, and/or blood tests. The method of testing is important in terms of window of time to detect the presence of a particular substance and demonstrating whether there has been recent use. For example, urine typically provides a short window of time, while hair testing using hair from the body versus head provides a longer period of detection. However, hair testing does not usually allow for detection for the two weeks prior to the sample being collected.
Contact an Experienced Florida Family Law Attorney If You Have Any Questions or Concerns
Our experienced Orlando divorce lawyers can help you achieve the very best arrangement for you and your family. Contact us today at the Arwani Law Firm, PLLC to find out more about our services.