You may have spent much of your marriage parenting alone. Have you been dealing with little crises, like scraped knees and lost pets, without the help of your spouse? Do you make excuses to your children about why their other parent is not there to watch their baseball games, dance recitals and award ceremonies? Is this because your spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol?
Living with an addict is stressful and frustrating. It may even be frightening at times when you worry about the wellbeing of your spouse or fear for the safety of your children. If you have reached your limit and are preparing to divorce your spouse, you should seek the solid legal advice that will help you make wise decisions about the custody of your children.
Preventing your spouse from gaining custody
Family courts typically strive to divide custody as equally as possible between parents. This is because studies show that children benefit from a strong bond with both parents. However, a judge will also take very seriously reports that a parent has a substance abuse issue. If you feel your spouse’s addiction will prevent him or her from appropriately caring for the children, you will want to take steps to limit the amount of access your children have to their other parent, including:
- Keep your own behavior, especially your use of drugs and alcohol, as pristine as possible.
- Gather documentation that supports your claim that your spouse’s addiction makes him or her an unfit parent, such as DUI arrests, emergency room visits and witness accounts.
- Keep a log of your spouse’s substance abuse and the behavior that results from the use of drugs or alcohol.
- Bring to court copies of any previous issues involving your spouse and the children, such as investigations by Texas Child Protective Services.
- Be prepared for the judge to offer your spouse the opportunity for supervised visitation or to place conditions on his or her time with the kids, such as passing a urine screening or completing a rehabilitation program.
- Consider seeking a restraining order if your spouse tends to be violent.
Family courts consider the best interests of the child as the standard for making custody decisions. Your spouse may request equal custody, but if you believe it would not benefit your children, you must be prepared to show evidence in court. Having a skilled family law attorney on your side can improve your chances of meeting your goals.