drugs in handThis is the second post in my series on how drug charges impact child custody in Melbourne, Florida. My previous post was an overview of the topics I will discuss in this series. If you are seeking assistance regarding a parent charged with a drug offense, it is important you speak with a family lawyer as soon as possible. It is imperative to understand how drug use impacts a current custody arrangement and how a parent will need to proceed in this situation. In this article I will discuss the very important topic of how the Court may change custody to protect a child. If you or a loved one needs immediate assistance, contact my office today to speak with an attorney.

Florida parents can lose custody for drug use in order to protect the best interests of the child

The best interest of the child is always the primary consideration of the Family Court in Melbourne and other Florida areas. When a Court is considering whether to modify custody due to parental drug use, the Judge will determine whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances. The Court considers a substantial change in circumstance, anything that is not trivial or temporary and was not anticipated at the time of the original custody order. The use of illegal drugs while caring for a child is serious, and generally will be found as grounds to change a custody order. Once the Court determines there is a change of circumstances, the Judge will then evaluate whether a modification to the order is in the best interests of the child. The Court will consider many statutory factors including the capacity and disposition of the parent to maintain an environment free from drug use.

Whether a change in custody is in the best interests of a child is very specific to each situation. For example, prescription drugs, such as antidepressants or medical marijuana, may not result in a change in custody if used according to the prescription. However, if the parent is abusing a prescription drug or if there is evidence the parent has endangered the child while using drugs, the Court may be more inclined to order a change. The decision of the Judge will depend on how the factors apply to the specific circumstances. The evidence provided to the Court will need to convince the Judge the parent is unfit and the environment the parent provides is not suitable to properly care for the child.

Changing custody for drug use begins with the filing of a Motion

The first step in requesting a change of custody is to file a Motion with the Family Court to modify the court order. The Petition must meet the requirements of Florida law, request a hearing, and provide statutory notice of the filing to the other parent. Florida family court requires a hearing before a Judge to evaluate the requested changes. The Court will hear from both parties regarding the changed circumstances and determine if a modification is required to protect the best interests of the child. The Court may issue a new order that outlines a modified custody arrangement if the Judge finds that the drug use endangers or impacts the child negatively.

The process of modifying a Family Court order is complicated and requires knowledge of the law. An experienced family lawyer will know what is required to properly file a Petition to modify a court order and how to prepare for the hearing. If a parent has been arrested due to drug charges, a family attorney may request an expedited hearing to protect the child. It is incredibly important to hire an experienced attorney to represent you in dealing with these types of cases. Taking action to protect the child from a parent who is abusing drugs is important to ensure the child is safe and properly cared for.

As a Melbourne child custody lawyer, I devote my practice to the handling of domestic relations law. I will give your case the attention it deserves and guide you through the complicated process of Family Court proceedings. Contact us online or by telephone today to schedule an initial consultation. We also serve Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.