Judge on the benchThis is the next post in my series on how child custody is impacted when a parent is arrested for drug-related charges. My last article discussed how to seek modification of a child custody order when there has been an arrest of a parent. It is important to remember that Florida Courts take the arrest of a parent very seriously. A Court will usually find it is against the best interests of the child to continue the regular custody arrangement with that parent. The arrest of a parent due to the use of illegal substances endangers the child and compromises the parent’s ability to care for the child. In this article I will discuss the process of requesting a Judge order supervised visitation with a parent who has been arrested.

The Court may hold an expedited hearing to change child custody

When a parent has been arrested for drug use, it is possible that the minor child is in danger or could be harmed while in the care of that parent. For this reason, a Court will often allow an expedited hearing. This process allows the parent seeking to reduce the arrested parent’s visitation rights the ability to schedule a hearing within days of filing a Motion. Once a hearing is held, the custody order may be modified by the Judge to provide for the change in circumstances. This allows the change in the order to be implemented more quickly. The Court acts expeditiously in this instance to ensure any risk to the welfare of the child is prevented or reduced considering the parent’s arrest.

At hearing the Judge will be presented evidence related to the arrest, and the changes that have resulted from the parent’s use of drugs or possible incarceration. The Court will look to Florida law’s factors in determining the best interests of the child. If a Judge evaluates the situation and decides a change to the custody order is in the best interest of the child, the Court will issue an order implementing a new parenting plan. This could include court-ordered drug tests, supervised visitation with the arrested parent, or for the visitation with the arrested parent to be suspended.

A Melbourne parent’s visitation will likely be supervised until they can establish that they are drug free

Courts will often impose supervised visitation if there is a reason to believe that a parent is regularly under the influence of illegal substances. The Judge will prioritize the needs of the child over the parent anytime a parent’s behavior impairs their ability to care for the child. Once a parent is arrested or deemed to be abusing drugs, the parent will then have to reestablish themselves as fit to care for the child over a period of time. The Court may order that supervised visitation should occur for a period while the parent is undergoing drug tests or rehabilitation. Supervised visitation requires a supervisor, such as a family member, relative, friend or social worker, to be present for all visitation. The supervisor is appointed by the Court and cannot be the other parent. The visitation may take place in the parent’s home or at a designated visitation facility. The primary custodian of the child must cooperate with the requirements of the supervised visitation and not dissuade the continued relationship with the other parent.

If you have a history of drug use and have remained drug free for a length of time, it is possible to Petition the Court for more visitation with your child. To seek a modification to a court order that required supervised visitation, you must file a Motion to ask the Court to reconsider your situation. It is imperative you retain a family lawyer experienced in child custody matters to ensure you are prepared if you wish to regain time with your child. Once hired, our firm will act promptly and efficiently to address your situation with the Court. Lindsey will provide the highest level of service and care to your family law matter. Call our office today to speak with an attorney and schedule an initial consultation. We serve clients in 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.