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How substance abuse affects child custody and visitation

Child custody and visitation disputes are always resolved with the child’s best interest in mind. This is true regardless of whether the matter is settled between parents or decided by a court of law. Because there are many factors that can contribute to a child’s best interest, these issues are usually ripe for legal argument.

As the opioid epidemic continues to wrap its icy grip around the country, many families are struggling to figure out how substance abuse affects child custody and visitation issues. The simple answer is that substance abuse can have a tremendous impact on a child’s well-being and therefore the legal issues that affect them. Children who are exposed to parents who struggle with substance abuse issues are more likely to have low self-esteem, poor school performance and an increased risk of developing anxiety and depression.

But those are not the only effects of parental substance abuse on children. The 25 percent of children who are exposed to parental substance abuse may also find themselves responsible for caring for their parents or their siblings when their parents are under the influence. This can create embarrassment and isolation, as these children may be less likely to invite friends over or go out to engage in social activities. This is a lot of responsibility that’s thrust on a young child, and many parents feel that it isn’t fair.

This is why substance abuse issues can play such a prevalent role in child custody and visitation disputes. A parent may be able to present evidence of substance-abuse to limit another parent’s access to his or her child. On the other hand, a parent who is accused of substance abuse may need to prove that he or she is sober in order to protect his or her parental rights. When dealing with these complicated and high-stakes issues, parents may want to consult with an experienced and competent family law attorney.