Articles Posted in Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can be devastating to families.  Texas family law recognizes the risk to children from parental substance abuse and seeks to protect them.

Termination of Parental Rights

One of the most severe potential consequences of substance abuse is termination of parental rights.  The court may terminate the parental rights of a parent who is the cause of a child being born addicted to alcohol or an illegal controlled substance.  Additionally, a court may order termination of parental rights if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the parent used a controlled substance in a way that endangered the child’s health or safety and either failed to complete a court-ordered treatment program or continued to abuse a controlled substance after completing a court-ordered program. Tex. Fam. § Code 161.001.

Custody and Visitation

Even when parental substance abuse does not result in termination of parental rights, it can still have a significant result on custody and visitation.  The Texas Family Code includes a stated public policy to both ensure that children have frequent contact with parents who act in their best interest and to provide children with a safe, stable and nonviolent environment.  The primary consideration in custody matters is the child’s best interest.

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In Texas custody cases, a court may only issue an order denying possession of a child or imposing restrictions or limitations on a parent’s right to possession to the extent necessary to protect the child’s best interest.  Tex. Fam. Code § 153.193. Thus, a court may only order that a parent’s visitation with a child be supervised if doing so is in the child’s best interest.

A father recently challenged a court’s denial of his request for supervised visitation and drug testing of the mother.

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