The question of what is in a child’s best interest is at the heart of any Florida custody case. When one or both parents have had a problem with alcohol or marijuana, their substance abuse can directly impact their case in terms of parental decision-making abilities and spending time with their child. Here is what you need to know about how your drinking or marijuana can affect your parenting plan:
Substance Abuse and Your Parenting Agreement
Under Florida law when parents are divorcing or otherwise require the court to make custody decisions, there are certain key elements which must be reflected in a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a plan which must be approved by the court and describes in detail how parents will share decision-making and time-sharing as well as the child’s health coverage, medical care, and other circumstances. This plan is the blueprint on how you and your former partner will conduct your co-parenting relationship. The court will review several key factors when considering whether or not to approve a parenting plan. For instance, the court will examine each parent’s ability to ascertain the child's needs and take action to meet them appropriately, their respective abilities to provide a stable home, the parent's emotional, physical, and mental health, and any other circumstances which could have an impact on the child's well-being. This inquiry will also encompass parent substance-abuse issues.
Best Interest of the Child
The court’s primary goal is to make choices concerning the child which are in the child’s best interest. The court can look at numerous factors to determine best-interest including the ability of each parent to maintain a home environment which is free of any substance abuse. Evidence that a parent has engaged in excessive drinking in the past may result in alcohol use restrictions being put in place during the time they are with their child. If a parent’s alcohol use is current and there appears to be a reason for concern, a parent may find that they are required to refrain from using all together and may be required to submit to testing and attend a treatment program as a condition of time-sharing. When the court hears information regarding a parent’s marijuana use, either past or present, it may also result in limitations on time-sharing contingent upon drug-testing and participation in a substance-abuse program. Depending on the severity of the substance abuse problem, a family court may be inclined to institute supervised time-sharing or award sole parental responsibility and majority time-sharing to one parent.
The degree to which your use of either of these substances can affect your case will also depend on how recently you used, the inclinations of the particular court you appear before and the agreements you can reach with your former partner.
To accurately assess the impact alcohol and marijuana use may have on your parenting agreement, it is critical that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney to evaluate your case. We have experience helping people understand their parenting agreement options; please contact us to schedule a free consultation. We invite you to learn more about our firm here.