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How your spouse’s substance abuse can impact custody in a divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2020 | Child Custody |

Addiction or substance abuse can easily break apart families. What was once a charming tendency to invite you out to drink after work while you courted may be a frustrating habit with financial implications now that you’ve married.

When your spouse struggles with substance abuse, they can change into a different person while under the influence, fail to meet their basic obligations to you and even become violent or dangerous. If your spouse struggles with substance abuse or addiction, even if that isn’t the primary reason that you chose to file for divorce, you should still consider how their addiction may impact their ability to co-parent.

If they don’t get the help they need, you may need to consider asking the courts to limit their parental authority and grant you primary custody until they do.

Supervised or limited visitation can be a better option for an addict

When you exchange custody with your ex, you need to know that your kids will be safe and have their basic needs met. When you won’t know if your ex can stay sober for the duration of their parenting time, you may have no confidence in their ability to meet your children’s needs, especially if some kind of emergency or unusual situation arises.

What if one of your children falls down the stairs, but your ex can’t drive them to the hospital because they’re too drunk to get behind the wheel? What if your ex gets high and passes out in the bed with your infants, potentially putting them at risk for smothering?

If you can’t say with full certainty that your ex can provide everything your children need and remain sober to provide that care, supervised visitation will help keep your kids safe and help your ex adjust to the reality of shared parenting responsibilities. Supervised visitation can help motivate your ex to remain sober and will ensure that there is someone there watching out for the kids and their safety.

Your ex can ask for a modification when they achieve sobriety

As a loving parent, you want your kids to have a relationship with their other parent, but you also need them to be safe. Asking the courts to limit the access or responsibilities of someone struggling with addiction can temporarily impact the parent-child relationship.

However, provided that your ex seeks treatment and improves, the courts in Minnesota will readily grant motions for modifications to custody arrangements when the family circumstances have shifted for the better.


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