Substance abuse and its effect on child custody

Pennsylvania parents should be aware of the various factors that can influence a custody battle. For example, when news broke that Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick would be splitting up, much of the resulting attention was focused on how the breakup would affect their three children. One expert has speculated that Disick might be the one to end up with custody despite a history of substance abuse. Contrary to popular belief, having a history of drug and alcohol abuse does not necessarily mean a parent cannot gain custody. The same is true of parents with histories of partner abuse, mental health issues and criminality, according to experts in family law.

Many courts award divorcing parents joint legal custody. This means that both parents share the major decision-making power. However, in circumstances where a parent is deemed unfit, such as in cases where one parent is incarcerated, the other parent may have sole legal custody. Even though having a history of substance abuse does not automatically disqualify a parent from having some degree of physical custody, the courts do take it seriously. A parent who has just gotten out of rehab, for example, could be given supervised visitation and mandatory drug testing.

The court also takes partner abuse seriously. However, a parent who has a tumultuous relationship with his or her partner yet is good with the children may receive a favorable judgment over a parent who does not treat the children well. The court does watch these cases closely, as the parent’s temper could eventually impact the custody arrangement.

A parent with children who is considering a breakup or divorce may want to obtain the assistance of legal counsel during the process. A family law attorney can often seek to negotiate an agreement with the other parent that will address custody and visitation issues and be in the children’s best interests.

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