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Child custody issues and maintaining sobriety

California parents dealing with addiction or sobriety challenges may be concerned about how their child custody rights could be affected by the situation. Family courts are charged with protecting the best interests of the child, but that includes a strong relationship with both parents. Addiction, in and of itself, does not make a parent unfit to spend time with or care for their child. However, there may be a need for safeguards or changes to visitation and custody rights, especially while a parent is dealing with an active addiction.

Factors considered in child custody cases

There are several factors that family courts consider when determining child custody and visitation, including the parents’ living situations, their ability to provide care, and their capacity to provide the level of age-appropriate care required by their children. Parents are also assessed for their ability to provide a consistent, supportive environment for their child, including ensuring they attend school and receive medical care that they need. The courts look to protect the physical and emotional health of the children. This may mean that a custody determination could be affected by an addiction, especially if a parent dealing with a substance use disorder is unable to provide the level of care their child needs.

Options for parents

A court may order a parent to provide some form of proof of sobriety or enrollment in a treatment program. They may also recommend or order parenting classes and other programs that are meant to support child safety and health.

Parents dealing with addiction or struggling with sobriety are still an important part of the lives of their children. If a parent was earlier in active addiction, they could seek a modification of a child custody or visitation order to provide them with more time with their children. Family courts recognize the importance of parental involvement, even through difficult times or periods of struggle.