prescription pill bottleThis is the next article in my series on how the use of medications can impact Florida child custody cases. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It also stressed the need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you believe your ex is abusing, or is otherwise addicted to, prescription medications. It is important that you take action immediately due to the fact that failing to do so can leave the judge with an impression that the situation is not urgent. In this article I will discuss how the abuse of medications can impact a parent’s legal custody rights. If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Melbourne child custody lawyer.

Florida parents will only lose “legal custody” of their children under extreme circumstances

Child custody (which is also referred to as “timeshare”) has two components. The first is “legal custody” while the second is “physical custody.” The former relates to a parent’s ability to make legal decisions regarding the child. A parent with joint legal custody, for example, can enroll the child in school, consent to medical care, gain access to government records such as birth certificates, and more. If a parent does not share in the legal custody of the child then they do not have the authority to do these things or many other tasks which are typically associated with being a child’s legal guardian. The overwhelming majority of Florida child custody cases award joint legal custody to the parents. Physical custody, by contrast, refers to the parent with whom the child is in the physical care of. How the Court will award physical custody will vary by situation and will be based on what the Judge believes is in the best interest of the child.

It is rare for a Court to grant a parent sole legal custody of the child. This is true even if their counterpart is suffering from addiction issues. Typically, a Judge will only allow sole legal custody to a parent in extreme circumstances. Such circumstances include situations where a parent has a history of child abuse, criminal activity, or the parent otherwise poses some type of threat to the child. While it is common for a parent to think that their counterpart should have “no rights,” due to addiction issues, Courts will only grant such relief in extreme circumstances.

Florida judges will likely restrict a parent’s physical custody, or timeshare, if they are addicted to prescription medications

Judges are quicker to restrict a parent’s physical time with the child than they are the parent’s legal rights. If a parent is addicted to prescription medications, and is unfit to care for the child as a result, then the Court will likely reduce that parent’s time with the child. The Court may also require that the parent only receive supervised visitation with the youth until they can establish that they have been clean for a period of time. The reasons why Courts will restrict a parent’s physical time with the child are obvious; if a parent is impaired to the point that they cannot care for the child then this causes a risk to the youth’s wellbeing. How the Court will rule in any given situation is always going to depend on the specifics of the situation and it is important that you retain an experienced attorney to assist you.

If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Melbourne child custody lawyer. I devote my practice to the handling of domestic relations law and I understand that this is an important time in your life. My office will give your case the attention it deserves. 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.