Does Alcoholism Ever Impact Child Custody Disputes?

Alcoholism and Child Custody

It has often been observed that alcoholism is a family disease. Much like other serious medical conditions do, alcoholism impacts every member of a family that is affected by this form of addiction. As a result, it is only natural to inquire whether this disease may impact a specific family’s child custody arrangements in the wake of parental separation or divorce.

The answer to this question is complex because every family’s situation is unique. There are certainly times when a parent’s alcoholism negatively impacts his or her children. And there are times when a parent’s alcoholism is no longer likely to affect children in any significant negative way. As a result, this question must be asked of each individual family’s situation before it can be determined with authority.

The Best Interests of the Child Standard

When family law judges are called upon to make child custody determinations, they are bound to base their decisions in any given case upon the “best interests of the child” standard. This standard essentially gives family law courts judicial discretion to make any reasonable child custody arrangement determination as long as it facilitates a child’s best interest. Although this is a noble standard in theory, it can become a bit tricky to navigate as the best interests of a given child are often subjective.

For example, if a child’s parent is still struggling with active addiction, has not yet sought treatment for his or her condition and regularly becomes violent when drunk, it is not likely in the child’s best interests to reside primarily with his or her alcoholic parent. This is a fairly objective determination. However, if a parent has been sober for two years, has sought treatment for addiction but struggled with violent tendencies during drinking binges in the past, a judge may ultimately have a great deal of latitude in determining whether a child’s best interests are better served by primarily residing with the parent in relatively recent recovery or the non-alcoholic parent.

It is for this reason that it is a good idea for parents in active addition, parents in recovery and parents affected by the addiction of their child’s other parent to speak with an attorney about the specifics of their situation. Only by dissecting the details of a family’s living situation and the ways in which a child may or may not be affected by a parent’s alcoholism can a parent truly begin to understand how custody arrangements may be affected by the presence of that medical condition within the family.

Legal Assistance Is Available

If you have questions about child custody issues, please consider contacting an experienced attorney. Every family’s situation is unique and it may not always be easy to determine what arrangement will best serve to advance a child’s best interests. After speaking with child custody lawyers in Rockville, MD and being advised of your legal options, you will be better able to determine the healthiest course of action for your child and your family moving forward. Consultations are generally confidential and will not obligate you to take legal action if you choose to avoid doing so.

Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and how alcoholism can affect child custody.