If you’re divorcing a co-parent with alcohol and/or drug issues, one of your primary concerns is the safety and well-being of your kids. You may fear that your spouse’s addiction has already caused your kids enough emotional damage.
It’s understandable that you want to protect your kids. However, if you and your co-parent are able to reach a custody and visitation agreement on your own or with the help of your attorneys, that’s generally preferable to having a court rule on the matter.
A high conflict custody battle can be emotionally difficult for kids. If you’re busy fighting with each other, you’re both less likely to be able to provide your kids with the support they need right now.
Further, when a parent has a custody order forced on them by the court, they’re less likely to be able to forge a healthy co-parenting relationship with their ex. Resentments can simmer, and they may be more likely to ignore the schedule and terms ordered by the court.
The impact of losing custody can be particularly difficult for women. Even in the 21st century, society looks askance at women who have little or no contact with their kids. People assume the mother must have done something awful if the father is the primary caregiver.
For any parent who’s already battling a drug or alcohol problem, no matter their gender, being denied the access to their children that they want and believe they should have can set them back. It can start them on a dangerous downward spiral or hamper their efforts at recovery.
Of course, none of this means that a parent should give into requests for custody and visitation by a parent who has shown that they can’t be trusted to care for their children or who is unwilling to accept that they have a substance abuse problem. Your children’s well-being has to be your top priority. However, if your co-parent is committed to their sobriety and you can support them in that commitment, they may be more willing to agree to limited custody and visitation until they’ve regained your trust.
Every situation is highly individual. Therefore, it’s essential to talk with your attorney about yours.