human hand with pill bottleThis is the next post in my discussion on how the abuse of medication can impact Florida child custody cases. My last article discussed how medication addiction impacts physical custody in our state. It is important to understand that a Court will likely reduce an addicted parent’s time with the child in order to protect the youth’s interests. In some cases, the Court may require that the parent’s time with the child be supervised. If you are dealing with such a situation then it is crucial that you contact an attorney immediately. In this article I will discuss the process of changing custody due to the other parent’s addiction issues. If you require assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Melbourne child custody lawyer.

Changing Florida child custody begins by filing a Petition with the Court

The first step in changing child custody in the state of Florida is to file a Petition with the Court. This is a formal document in which the requesting parent will state how circumstances have changed since the last custody order and why a modification is in the child’s best interests. The Court will schedule an initial hearing for the Petition. In cases involving addiction, Courts are often willing to hear the matter on an expedited basis in order to ensure the child’s safety. The initial hearing on the Motion is not a trial and the parties will not typically testify. The hearing will be brief and it will consist of the attorneys for the two sides making brief arguments to the Court. The Judge will typically make an immediate, but temporary, change in custody and will require the accused parent to take an immediate drug test. If the test returns positive results, or there is other evidence showing an addiction/abuse of medications, then the Court will typically leave the temporary order in place until a trial can be held.

Each side will have the opportunity to conduct discovery in between the initial hearing and a trial. Discovery is the process by which information is gained from the other side in a lawsuit. It can be used to obtain phone records, bank statements, arrest records, medical records, and other information which can be used to prove addiction. Also, if the accused parent is spending time in dangerous situations, in order to purchase drugs, then discovery can be used to uncover evidence of such conduct. Assuming a settlement is not reached, the case will conclude at a trial. Unlike criminal matters, the Judge will be the decider of fact at the trial as there are no juries in Family Court. Once a decision is reached, the Court will issue a new Order which the parties must abide by.

It is important to retain an attorney to assist you in a change of custody case

The process discussed above can quickly become very complicated. Discovery is a rule-based process and if proper procedures are not followed then the other party may not be required to provide information which you request. Likewise, the Court will be enforcing the rules of evidence and procedure at a trial. If your case is not handled correctly then the result can be the Court considering evidence which should not have been considered. It can also result in the Court not hearing evidence which is vital to your case. You increase your chances of the matter being handled correctly by retaining an attorney with experience in such matters.

If you are in need of assistance then contact my office to discuss your situation with a Melbourne child custody lawyer. I practice solely in the area of family law and I understand that this is a serious time in your life. We pride ourselves on providing quality service and will make your case a priority. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an initial consultation. We 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.