Substance Abuse and Child Custody
Texas prioritizes the best interests of children above anything else in custody cases. As such, if a parent engages in behavior that jeopardizes the child’s well-being, like misusing drugs or alcohol, the courts may restrict or terminate the parent’s custodial rights. In some cases, though, it may be possible for a parent with substance abuse issues to maintain a relationship with their child. If you have questions about substance abuse and child custody, it is smart to consult an attorney as soon as possible. The skillful Dallas child-custody attorneys of McClure Law Group understand the importance of protecting a child’s safety, and, if you retain our services, we will help you pursue a result that benefits you and your child.Substance Abuse and Child Custody in Texas
It is well-established that in Texas child-custody cases, the courts’ fundamental concern is what is in the child’s best interest. The Texas Family Code (the “Code”) sets forth numerous factors the courts should consider when evaluating what custody arrangement will be most beneficial to a child, including each parent's ability to prioritize the child’s welfare, whether the child’s emotional, psychological, and physical needs will benefit from a parent having custodial rights, and any other relevant factor. The courts also aim to provide a safe and stable living situation for the child.
As substance abuse directly impairs a parent's ability to provide a secure environment, it is pertinent in Texas custody cases. When substance abuse allegations arise, courts carefully evaluate the claims and any evidence offered in support of or refuting such assertions. This may include an assessment of substance abuse, the parent's history of treatment, and their efforts to maintain sobriety. The court may also consider testimony from experts, substance abuse evaluations, and input from Child Protective Services.
If the court finds that a parent is actively abusing substances or has a history of misuse or relapses, they may limit the parent’s custody rights or order supervised visitation. The courts may also order a parent with substance-abuse issues to undergo drug testing (including continuous alcohol monitoring, if alcohol abuse is at issue) or participate in rehabilitation programs or counseling sessions to ensure they are able to provide their child with a safe environment. If the parent complies with such orders and demonstrates a commitment to recovery, they may be able to maintain a relationship with their child. In cases where substance abuse poses a direct threat to the child's safety, the courts may even award primary or sole custody to the other parent or a suitable guardian.
In some instances, the courts will find it necessary to take the drastic measure of terminating a parent’s rights due to ongoing substance abuse. The Code provides that if the court finds by evidence that is convincing and clear that a parent used a controlled substance in a way that jeopardized their child’s safety and health and either failed to complete a court-ordered treatment program for substance abuse or, after completing such program continued to abuse a controlled substance, the court can terminate the parent’s rights. Courts are also permitted to terminate a mother’s rights if a child is born addicted to drugs or alcohol due to the mother’s use of such substances during pregnancy. These are extreme remedies that are very seldom used by the courts, but they are remedies that the courts have at their disposal nonetheless.Talk to an Experienced Dallas Attorney
Substance abuse can significantly impact the outcome of child-custody cases in Texas. While options for preserving the relationship between a parent misusing drugs or alcohol and their child exist, the ultimate goal remains ensuring the child's safety and best interests are upheld. If you want to understand how substance abuse issues may affect your custody rights and obligations, it is smart to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Dallas lawyers of McClure Law Group are proficient at handling complicated custody proceedings, and if we represent you, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. Our primary office is located in Dallas, and we can meet clients for appointments at our secondary Collin-County office located in Plano. We regularly assist people with child custody matters in Dallas, Fort Worth, Rockwall, Frisco, McKinney, Irving, Richardson, and Garland. We also represent parties in family-law lawsuits in cities in Dallas, Collin, Denton, Rockwall, Tarrant, and Grayson Counties. You can reach us by calling 214.692.8200 or by using our form online to set up a confidential meeting.