How do addiction and recovery affect child custody?

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2021 | Child Custody |

If you are a parent in New Jersey who is struggling with addiction, you might be concerned about how it will affect your right to custody and visitation. While a history of addiction or substance abuse can affect the way a court decides to grant custody and visitation, showing concrete steps towards recovery will also impact the court’s perception.

Why addiction can affect custody

As in all child custody matters, when a court evaluates each family’s situation, it focuses on the best interest of the child. In most cases, continuing a relationship with both parents is seen as positive for the child, as long as the child remains safe and in a stable environment. For parents who are struggling with addiction but who want to continue developing their relationship with their child, this might mean the court orders supervised visitation, perhaps in a safer, controlled environment until the parent can show proof of a real change in both the situation and environment.

How recovery can be a path to gaining custody

Parents who are seeking shared child custody or even unsupervised visitation need to show that they are in the process of or have completed recovery programs. This can go a long way towards showing the court their commitment to their children. Parents can provide evidence that includes:

• Proof of a completed rehabilitation program
• Proof of ongoing behavioral therapy
• Negative drug test results from consistent monitoring
• Participation in a remote alcohol monitoring program

As the court observes consistent improvement and commitment to sobriety and recovery, the court might also decide to modify the custody order and parenting plan. This might help the parent who has struggled with addiction also show their family that their first priority remains their child’s overall health and safety.

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