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Substance abuse can affect child custody plans

A single parent in Texas may be understandably concerned if their former partner has a substance abuse problem. Family courts prioritize a close child relationship with both parents. However, the effects of drug or alcohol use on that parent-child relationship are legitimate concerns. There are several steps that concerned parents can take to help to protect their children from potentially dangerous situations.

In most cases, courts address substance abuse concerns during child custody hearings or after a report is made to the court or state. For example, if someone files a complaint with the state child services department, it could be referred back to family court. However, simple evidence that a parent uses illegal drugs is not usually sufficient to risk undermining the parent-child relationship. The issue becomes a much greater concern when the drug use poses a danger to the parent's ability to care for their child or puts the child at risk in some way.

While substance abuse in both the present and past can be taken into account during child custody determinations, in many cases, a substance use problem may emerge after a custody order is already in place. However, if there are valid complaints that raise concerns about the child's safety or well-being, a family court may order a modification of the custody agreement. If the noncustodial parent has visitation only, the court could order that it be supervised or take place in a controlled setting.

A parent who is concerned about their ex's substance abuse problem can raise these concerns with the family court. A family law attorney could help a parent advocate for the best interests and safety of their child and gather the information necessary to seek a child custody modification.

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