Prescription drug padThis is the next post in my series on how the use of medications impacts child custody in Melbourne and other Florida areas. My last article discussed whether a parent with medication addictions can maintain joint legal custody of their child. As I explained, it is rare for Courts to strip a parent of their legal custody rights. Such a restriction is typically reserved for the most extreme of circumstances – such as when a child has been sexually abused by a parent. A Court will be quick, however, to restrict a parent’s level of physical custody if a parent’s addiction poses a threat to the child. This article will expand on that point by explaining how the Court views physical custody arrangements (also known as “timeshare”) in cases involving addiction. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a family law lawyer.

Florida Courts will be concerned with how medication addiction impacts the best interests of the child

Florida is like other states in that the Court’s sole concern in any child custody case will be ensuring that the child’s best interests are protected. When determining what is in a child’s “best interests,” the Court will look at factors such as:

  • The relationship that each parent has with the child
  • The needs of the child and each parent’s ability to meet those needs
  • The physical and mental health of each parent

There are several other factors which the Court will look at. I stressed these particular ones due to the fact that they deal with the parent’s health (both physical and mental) and their ability to care for the child. It goes without saying that a parent’s addiction issues can interfere with their ability to care for their son or daughter. If, for example, a parent is regularly high on drugs then they are not able to safely drive the child somewhere. Likewise, if a parent is regularly inebriated then they are not in a good state of mind to care for the youth and are very unlikely to be attentive to the youth’s needs.

Many parents make the mistake of thinking that the Court will consider their desire to spend time with the child. It must be understood that the Court is in no way concerned with what a parent wants. The Court’s sole role, again, is to ensure that the child is in a safe and nurturing environment to the extent possible. The Court’s decision, therefore, will be geared around protecting the child. If protecting the child requires that the parent with addiction issues only have supervised visitation, then that is what the Court will order. It is also important to remember that each situation is fact specific and how the Court will rule in any given situation will always depend on the specifics of the case.

A Florida parent who is abusing prescription medication can likely expect their physical custody rights to be reduced or possibly supervised

If a parent is shown to be addicted to prescription medications then a Court is likely to grant the other parent primary custody of the child. If it is shown that the child cannot be considered safe in the presence of the addicted parent then the Court is likely to require that any visitation be supervised. The supervisor would typically be a neutral third-party, picked by the Court, or visitation may occur at a court-sponsored facility. If the troubled parent is able to show that they have stayed clean for a prolonged period of time then the Court will likely lift the supervision requirement. Depending on the circumstances, a parent who can establish that they are clean may also be able to Petition the Court for more time with the child. It is best to consult with an attorney in order to gain an opinion as to how the Court may rule in your particular instance.

If you or a loved one are in need of assistance then contact my office to speak with a Melbourne child custody lawyer. I devoted my practice to the handling of domestic relations law and I understand that this is a serious time in your life. My office will give your case the attention it deserves and we will make ourselves available to answer any questions you may have. Contact us online or by telephone today. 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.