In any divorce case where children are involved and custody is at issue the Court will look to see what is in the best interest of the child. To that end, the lifestyles and living circumstances of the parents are critical in this determination. In particular, if a parent has a negative habit or instances where they lack to ability to exercise self-control it will weigh heavily with the Court and potentially effect custody. One of these lifestyle circumstances that Courts are frequently encountering are instances where one or more parents have abused drugs.
According to O.C.G.A §19-9-3, factors such as the mental health of the parent, parent’s involvement in the child’s life, the parent’s history of taking care of the child and the capacity of the parent to provide the necessary care for the child are explored by the Court in this determination. The Court will also look to see the basis of the allegation that a parent has abused drugs. Other factors include:
- Was it a situation where a child observed a parent using drugs?
- What type of drug is alleged to have been abused?
- Have criminal charges resulted from the alleged drug use?
- Have there been positive drug screens?
- Is the appearance of the parent consistent with that of drug use?
Drug use is hard to disguise and eventually the truth comes out. It can manifest itself with the inability to maintain employment, new criminal charges or changes in physical appearance. Depending on the circumstances the Court can impose certain conditions and ultimately use the willingness of the party to comply as a basis for the determination of custody. For instance, if the Court determined that a parent was abusing drugs that parent might be required to attend a drug treatment program and submit to random drug screens. In that instance a failure to attend the program or a failed drug test could result in a permanent or temporary loss of custody.
Ultimately it is important to remember that the Court has been given a wide degree of discretion to make decisions as to what is in the best interest of the child. Typically, a failed drug test or a pending drug- related criminal case will not result in an automatic loss of custody because the Court is considering a host of factors. Regardless, whether you have been accused of drug abuse during a pending custody matter or suspect the other parent of abusing drugs, you need experienced legal representation to guide through this process. The Douglasville Divorce Lawyer is experienced in matters related to contested and uncontested divorce, child support, child custody, spousal support, adoptions and modifications. We serve Atlanta, Douglasville, Lithia Springs, Hiram, Marietta, Smyrna and Powder Springs. Contact our law firm today for a consultation.