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Don’t let parental substance abuse damage your child

If you’re reading this blog post it’s probably because your children are the most important thing in your life. Sadly, many Alabamans are put in a position where they have to fight to maintain their relationship with their children and protect their children from harm. Whether these disputes arise in the context of a divorce or matters outside a marital relationship, you need to be prepared to properly address child custody and visitation matters so that you can better position yourself to achieve an outcome that is favorable for you and, more importantly, your children.

As we have mentioned previously on this blog, the court will make child custody determinations based on the child’s best interests. This can incorporate a consideration of a whole host of factors, including each parent’s financial stability, mental health, and prior relationship with the child. Although no one factor may be dispositive, there are some that may carry significantly greater weight than others.

Exposure to parental substance abuse, for example, can have a tremendous impact on a child. To start, children who live in a home where substance abuse is common often end up taking on responsibilities that are greater than they can handle. As a result, they might not develop the life skills that are necessary to properly function in life. Additionally, these children can develop a sense of mistrust in authority figures since their parent has let them down time and again. This can result in aggressive behaviors and a greater likelihood of risk-taking.

There are other effects, too. Children who are exposed to parental substance abuse may experience:

  • Nightmares
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Poor school performance
  • Confusion
  • Physical, emotional and sexual abuse
  • Neglect

Therefore, if you’re in the midst of a child custody dispute, or envision yourself embroiled in one in the near future, then you need to be prepared to gather evidence that shows why your proposed plan best supports your child’s best interests. This may mean showing parental drug use or defending against allegations of such. We understand that these matters can be emotional, though, which is why many individuals find it helpful to have a assistance from an attorney who can see the issues clearly and aggressively argue accordingly.