This is the third post in my series on how criminal drug charges impact child custody cases in Melbourne and other Florida areas. My last article discussed whether a parent could lose custody of their child due to drug use. If you are in a situation involving the parent of your child being arrested for drug use, it is incredibly important to meet with an attorney. Florida family courts require that all parties follow the procedural requirements to proceed with a change of custody in a serious situation such as drug use. In this article I will discuss why it is important to understand how a drug arrest impacts child custody matters. It is also my goal to provide information which will assist you in choosing a lawyer. If you or someone you love needs assistance, contact my office today to schedule a consultation.
Drug use and criminal activity are both against the best interests of a child
Florida family court will always consider the best interests of the child before modifying a parenting plan that provides for custody and visitation arrangements. The Court’s determination of the best interests of the child is made by evaluating factors that affect the welfare and interests of the child and the circumstances of their family. This evaluation is situation specific; however, if a parent is arrested for criminal charges, it is always taken more seriously. In the Judge’s evaluation, the use of illegal drugs in the presence of the child is evidence that a parent is putting their own needs before the child’s needs. When a parent is arrested, not only has the parent possibly endangered the child, but the parent has likely lost the ability to provide for the child’s everyday needs.
The circumstances surrounding drug use can vary depending on whether or not the parent was using while the child was in their care. The Court will evaluate the circumstances and may require drug tests and supervised visitation until the parent has shown they are clean and sober. However, if the parent has been charged criminally, the circumstances are much more serious, and it is important to consult an attorney. An arrest is usually grounds for an expedited hearing on the matter to determine if visitation should be supervised or suspended immediately. The involvement of law enforcement and presence of criminal charges provides the Court with objective evidence that causes the Court to be concerned about the welfare of the child.
Melbourne parents may request an emergency custody hearing after a drug arrest
Florida courts will take prompt action if there is evidence that the child may be in danger due to a parent’s behavior. In situations where the parent of a child has been arrested for a drug-related charge, the first step to modify child custody is to file a Petition with the Family Court. Since the Court always requires a hearing to evaluate the case, a request for an expedited hearing will allow the Judge to hear the matter within days of filing the Motion. The Court will seek to respond swiftly and prevent further exposure to the parent that could jeopardize the wellbeing of the child. At the hearing, the Judge may issue an order which implements a new parenting plan with the changed visitation arrangements.
Modifying child custody is always a complicated and serious matter. It is important to speak with a family attorney immediately upon learning of a parent’s arrest for drug- related charges to understand how to best protect the child. Family court requires all parties to adhere to the procedural requirements and to Petition for a modification or request an expedited hearing. Working with a lawyer will help to ensure you are able to present sufficient evidence at the hearing to protect a child in the serious circumstance of a drug arrest. An experienced family attorney will be equipped to present the new proposed plan to the Court and guide you through the process.
If your child’s parent has been arrested for drug use, it is best to speak with an attorney immediately. My office has extensive experience dealing with child custody cases. I understand the complicated nature of such situations and 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.