This is the next post in my series on how drug use affects custody in the State of Florida. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It is important to remember to speak with an attorney if you or a loved one are dealing with a situation where a child’s parent is using drugs. It is important that you contact counsel immediately as the Court takes parental drug use cases very seriously. In this article I will be discussing how the Court’s sole concern in parental drug use cases will always be to do what is in the best interests of the child. You should not take these matters into your own hands if you believe a child may be in danger. If you are in need of assistance then contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
Florida Courts are only worried about the best interests of the child in cases where a parent is using drugs
When a parent is found to be using drugs, the Florida Court will do everything it can to ensure the child is safe. This could entail preventing the parent from having physical custody of the child and/or only permitting supervised visitation. It should be highlighted that the Court will not be concerned with the parent’s wishes in these types of situations. For example, a mother trying to get clean may allege that losing custody of her child will have negative consequences on her sobriety. She may claim that it will be harder for her to focus on rehabilitation if she does not get to be with her child. However, the Court will not necessarily take the mother’s difficulties into account when making its determination. The Court will only consider what is in the best interests of the child. This could, however, include thinking about how the parent’s wellbeing affects the child.
The Court will also only be concerned with the child’s wellbeing in matters where the parent is using substances which are prescribed (such as prescription pills or marijuana). While these situations will be less severe in the Court’s eyes, it will be taken seriously if the medication is preventing the parent from properly caring for their child. The Court will not care that the substances are prescribed if it is impacting the wellbeing of the kid. Furthermore, the Court will view the parent in an even more negative light if they are abusing their prescription medications. The Court views situations in this way because parents are adults and capable of taking care of themselves. Meanwhile, children require care and guidance from individuals who are competent and able to ensure all their needs are met.
Florida judges will take into account the parent’s drug use and weigh this against what is in the best interests of the child
It should be noted that the Court will not hold a parent’s prescription drug use against the parent as long as they are not abusing the substance. However, the Court will take into account how the parent’s prescription drug use may impact the child. Also, the Court will most certainly be concerned with the use of illegal substances. For instance, a parent may not, under any circumstances, drive with their child while on medication that may impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle. Similarly, the Court will look at how the medication affects the parent’s ability to properly parent the child. A parent prescribed medical marijuana that cannot appropriately manage their usage may be viewed as untrustworthy or irresponsible to the Court. Courts also tend to believe that parents using hard drugs not prescribed to them will affect the child’s safety and well-being, as well as their academic and social life. The Court will take all of these factors into account and base its decision on what is in the best interests of the child.
Parental drug use cases are sensitive and personal matters which are incredibly difficult to navigate. The Court will consider a variety of options before deciding what is best for the child. I cannot stress enough how important it is to retain an experienced lawyer to assist you. I am a Melbourne family law attorney with extensive experience in child custody cases. I understand the serious nature of such situations and my office will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact my office online or by telephone today for assistance. I also serve the Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.