How substance abuse impacts custody rights

An addiction to drugs, alcohol or other controlled substances will play a role in the outcome of a child custody hearing. If you develop the addiction after a custody order is created, a Delaware judge may agree to take a second look at it. The courts must make any decisions regarding visitation or custody rights with your child’s best interests in mind.

You may lose custody

If you have custody of your children, there is a chance that you may lose them after developing an addiction to illicit substances. The same may be true if you relapse after a period of sobriety. However, there is a chance that you will be given supervised visitation rights or other means by which to stay in your child’s life.

Your child still needs you

Despite your addiction, your child will want to have a relationship with you. Therefore a family law judge will typically allow for supervised visitation or other forms of contact with a son or daughter. For example, you might be able to meet your child at the library for an hour each week while a social worker watches over you. Alternatively, you may be able to send emails or text messages to your kids on a regular basis.

Follow the court’s orders

Ignoring a judge’s order to attend rehab or regular meetings can be a straightforward way to lose parental rights on a more permanent basis. Conversely, following a judge’s orders is a potentially effective way to show how much you care about your kids and being in their lives. In addition, enrolling in a treatment program on your own may help you score additional points with the court as it relates to showing your willingness to be a better parent.

While a substance abuse issue may complicate your relationship with your kids, it doesn’t mean you can’t have one. However, you will likely need to get help and show evidence of continued sobriety if you want joint or sole custody of your children.