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How Are Child Custody Decisions Impacted by a Parent’s Substance Abuse in Kansas?

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Why Do Judges Consider Parental Substance Abuse in Custody Decisions?

After a divorce, most people find themselves in custody battles, with each one fighting for a favorable outcome, which is often to be granted sole or legal child custody. Unfortunately, custody determination is sometimes complex unless the parents can mutually agree on how to share parenting time.

Courts often consider many factors to uphold the children’s best interests. One of the crucial factors judges must evaluate is parental fitness, which often entails checking whether a parent engages in substance abuse.

If you’re fighting for custody and believe your ex-spouse is unfit due to substance abuse, talk to skilled family lawyers in Overland Park. They can help you prove your claim and create a solid case to show why you’re the better-suited parent to be granted custody of your children.

What is The Role of Substance Abuse in Custody Cases?

A parent suffering from drug or alcohol abuse addiction can pose a threat to the physical, psychological, and emotional welfare of the children. They cannot adequately care for the children if the other parent is no longer present or there is no support system from the extended family.

A parent’s substance abuse may be a known factor at the beginning of child custody negotiations. In such a case, they may be able to retain their custody privileges as long as they enroll in an alcohol management program. That way, the children can spend time with the affected parent safely.

However, claims of unmanaged alcohol abuse that threaten a child’s well-being and safety can dramatically affect custody arrangements. If you’re in the middle of a custody battle and your children’s other parent has an ongoing addiction or behaves irresponsibly with alcohol, consult experienced child custody lawyers in Overland Park for legal counsel and representation.

How Can I Prove Substance Abuse in a Child Custody Case?

If you claim that your children’s other parent has a substance abuse problem in a child custody case, you must substantiate your statements to a reasonable degree that holds weight. That means you require evidence to settle the claims definitively. It can be easy to produce records that prove patterns of alcohol abuse if your ex-spouse has an extremely long history of substance abuse.

Examples of such include:

  • Court-mandated drug treatment programs
  • Medical records that show excessive alcohol or drug abuse
  • DUI arrests or convictions

However, the accused parent may aggressively fight to defend themselves and claim that they don’t pose a threat to the children. Depending on the case intensity and your ex-partner’s history of substance abuse, your Overland Park child custody lawyers may help you file a request to the court to subject your ex-spouse to tests that can help corroborate your claims:

EtG Test

An EtG test can detect the presence of ethanol (alcohol) in an individual’s urine to prove or disprove whether the accused has consumed alcohol in the past 80 days.

However, it can initially be challenging to convince your ex-spouse to take the test unless there is past documentation that shows excessive alcohol use. The records can prompt the court to mandate the test.

However, a downside is that it’s not a guarantee that the court will mandate the EtG test. Besides, while the results can show traces of alcohol in the subject’s system, the fact doesn’t necessarily imply alcohol abuse. An EtG test doesn’t rule out responsible alcohol use. Consult skilled child custody attorneys on whether the test is viable in your case.

Witness Testimony

Another method to substantiate alcohol abuse claims is to have a witness testify in court about the accused’s drinking patterns and whether they find them excessive and risky. However, the testimony remains hearsay unless the witness testifies under oath or is subpoenaed.

Your family attorneys in Overland Park can help evaluate witness statements to determine if they support your claims. Other ways in which you can prove alcohol or drug abuse are:

  • Employment records showing absenteeism and other adverse effects due to substance abuse
  • Reports from custody evaluations on the impact of the parent’s drug abuse
  • Social media posts that reveal excessive drinking
  • Repeated, incoherent voicemails or texts indicating that your ex-spouse is often drunk

Can A Parent Lose Their Custody Rights Due to Substance Abuse?

If substance abuse is proven, the court will determine that the parent in question is unable to make decisions in the best interests of the children, exercise parenting time without restrictions, or safely care for the children. Such a parent can lose custody rights or even affect a custody order already in place.

If your ex-spouse has sole custody of the children but has started showing worrying signs of substance abuse that pose a risk to the children’s welfare, you could request a custody modification. Child custody lawyers in Overland Park can help you show that:

  • There has been a substantial change in circumstances
  • The modification request is in the children’s best interests.

A parent could also lose their custody rights if convicted of a DUI under aggravating factors such as:

  • Having a child in the car during a DUI
  • Having a very high blood alcohol concentration
  • Being a repeated DUI offender

A Skilled Family Lawyer Helping You Navigate Parental Substance Abuse in a Child Custody Case

Child custody cases can become complex if one parent has a substance abuse problem. Reaching a mutual agreement may be impossible, and the court may subject you to a lengthy custody determination process before issuing the final order. You can easily get frustrated, but working with skilled child custody attorneys in Overland Park can relieve your burden.

Lawyers know how divorce and child custody laws work in Kansas. They can fight to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to ensure your children’s welfare is protected. At Barnds Law LLC, we believe in keeping families together while upholding everyone’s rights. Call us at 913-514-0909 to schedule a strategy session.

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