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Substance abuse could affect custody decisions

Substance abuse could have a significant impact on a person's judgment. When that person is a parent, it could put his or her children in danger. There are some things a parent could do if they suspect their children's other parent has been abusing alcohol or other drugs while the kids are with him or her. If a judge has not made a custody decision, a concerned parent may raise the issue in divorce court. However, if these decisions have already been made, a report could be made with New Jersey child protective services.

Custodial and noncustodial parents may be concerned about how their former spouses' substance abuse could impact their children. Someone may learn about the issue from his or her children when they return from a visit with their other parents. It is important for people to document everything they see and hear about the other parents' substance abuse to present it to the judge or county social worker. In some cases, it might be appropriate for a person to deny the other parent visitation with their children if he or she is clearly intoxicated.

Family courts base child custody decisions on what is in the best interests of the children. Judges typically don't change the original orders unless there has been a significant change in circumstances. When a custodial parent has been abusing drugs or alcohol, and this substance use affects the way he or she cares for the children, the noncustodial parent may petition the court for custody. It's important for a person to have documentation to show the court that the custodial parent is unable to fulfill his or her duties.

An attorney may help someone gather documentation to show the court that his or her former spouse is unable to safely care for their children. Some things that might help people present their cases include text messages, social media posts and arrest records. A judge may award residential child custody to the other parent or when the noncustodial parent is the one abusing drugs or alcohol and require visits to be supervised by a third party.

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