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Tampa Family Lawyer > Blog > Family > Substance Abuse And Child Custody In Florida

Substance Abuse And Child Custody In Florida


In Florida, the courts use a “best interests of the child” standard to determine issues related to child custody. That means that they put the best interests of the children at the forefront of any decision they make. The courts will consider whether or not a parent has an active substance abuse issue when determining custody and visitation. In this article, the Florida family law attorneys at Faulkner Law Group, PLLC will discuss how substance abuse issues can impact the court’s consideration of a parent when determining child custody and visitation.

Drug abuse impacts parental capacity 

The courts will assume that a drug-abusing parent has less capacity to provide a safe and stable environment for their child. When determining custody and visitation arrangements, the Florida courts consider the parent’s ability to meet the child’s emotional, physical, and developmental needs. The courts will consider drug abuse a factor that impairs the parent’s judgment, reliability, and ability to provide the child with care. It can have a negative effect on their custody and visitation rights.

The safety and well-being of the child 

The court’s primary concern when determining custody and visitation is the safety and well-being of the child. Substance abuse raises concerns about the child’s emotional and physical well-being. The courts are interested in creating a secure and stable environment for the child. They assume that drug abuse poses a risk to the child’s safety and will decide custody matters accordingly.

Substance abuse evaluations and treatment 

The court can order a parent to undergo a substance abuse evaluation that assesses the extent and impact of the substance abuse. The parent may be required to undergo drug testing, counseling, or treatment to address the issue of substance abuse. Parents who comply with these demands significantly increase their odds of getting a favorable decision. Compliance demonstrates that the parent is committed to addressing the problem and prioritizing the child’s best interests.

The court will also take into account the parent’s history of substance abuse and relapse. A history of relapse or a pattern of substance abuse will raise concerns that the parent cannot maintain a stable and safe environment for the child. The court could decide to award custody to the other parent and limit visitation to supervised interactions.

A parent who demonstrates a sincere effort to kick the habit will gain due consideration by the court. The court will consider whether a parent has sought treatment, participated in counseling or support groups, and made progress toward overcoming their substance abuse problem. Actively engaging in recovery can positively impact the court’s attitude toward a parent with substance abuse issues.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Divorce Lawyer Today 

Faulkner Law Group, PLLC represents the interests of Tampa residents who are pursuing divorce. If you have misgivings about the other parent’s ability to co-parent with you, or believe a history of substance abuse will be used against you in court, please contact our Tampa family lawyers right away. We can help.

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