This is the next post in my series on the handling of Florida child cases in which a parent is alleged to be abusing medications. My last article discussed the process of proving that a parent is abusing their prescriptions. Such proof can come through either a positive drug test or through the discovery process. Making proper requests to the Court and conducting discovery both involve complicated legal and procedural issues. It is, therefore, strongly suggested that you retain an experienced attorney to assist you with the process. In this article I will discuss what to expect when attending a trial in such matters. If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Melbourne child custody lawyer.
I have previously discussed the process of attending a change of child custody trial. The process is the same in matters involving prescription medications. The matter will begin with each side making an opening statement. The party requesting the change will then present their evidence and witnesses. The defending party will then present their case and the requesting party may follow with “rebuttal” evidence. Rebuttal is not a time for new evidence to be presented. The requesting party may only use this part of the case to present evidence which directly responds to claims made by the defense. Each side will then make a closing argument to the Judge (there are no juries in Family Court). The Judge will either issue a decision immediately after the trial or within a few days.
A key issue in trials involving substance abuse will be the amount and type of visitation granted to the parent with addiction issues. Assuming that medication abuse is established, the extent to which the Court will allow visitation will depend on the specifics of the case. At a minimum, the Court will likely restrict the offending parent in regard to driving with the child or engaging in other activities which might place the youth in danger. Quite often, in cases involving addiction, the Court will require that the offending parent’s visitation be supervised. Supervision will likely stay in place until such time that the offending parent can demonstrate to the Court that they are now drug free. They may make such a request with the Court through the filing of a Motion or, depending on the situation, the Court may also order regular status checks and drug testing.
Trials are complicated matters and the Court will enforce the rules of evidence and procedure. If you are not adequately represented then the Court may not be able to consider evidence which is important to your case. Conversely, a lack of adequate representation can result in the Court considering evidence, offered by the other side, which should not have been admitted. Retaining an experienced trial lawyer can help to ensure that your matter is handled properly. I am a former prosecutor who now devotes her practice to the handling of family law matters. I understand that this is a crucial time in your life and my office will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or by telephone to speak with a Melbourne child custody attorney. My office also services clients in 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.