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What are the Laws Regarding Substance Abuse and Child Custody in New Jersey?

Substance abuse is a very real issue that many people, even parents, face in their lives. When parents have such a responsibility to their children, this problem can seriously impact the lives of their children. It is because of this that it can also affect their child custody rights, whether it may be during a divorce or after the fact in the post-divorce modification. Continue reading below to learn more and contact an experienced New Jersey family law attorney for assistance in dealing with these matters.

How Can Substance Abuse Impact Custody in Divorce Proceedings?

When a divorce is filed due to substance abuse, regardless of whether or not fault is cited, it can impact the outcome of the proceedings. This is because courts in New Jersey make decisions during divorce cases based on what is in the best interest of the child. Generally, they do not believe it is in the best interest of a child to spend time with a parent who suffers from substance abuse and addiction.

While the court will most likely not strip custody rights from a parent suffering from substance abuse issues completely, they usually will not be awarded as much parenting time as the other parent. In most cases, the parenting time will also be supervised. In addition to this, the addict parent may not be granted legal custody of their child either. 

How Can Substance Abuse Impact a Settlement After a Divorce?

What is best for a child at the time of a divorce may not always stay the same as life goes on. This can be seen in cases where addiction or substance abuse can develop later on in life, after a divorce is settled and a parent has custody of their child. In these cases, a co-parent may worry about their child spending time with the parent who is struggling. These situations can affect an already existing child custody agreement, as a parent can request a modification based on the change in circumstances. This can allow the parent to seek limitations in the addict parent’s custody and parenting time.

It is important to note that this works alternatively as well. If a parent had limited custody and visitation rights due to a previous substance abuse or alcohol problem and sought recovery, they may file for a modification to secure their rights based on their own changes. 

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If you need an experienced legal team to guide you through your divorce, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark L.L.C today.