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What parents need to know about alcohol and custody

All too often, alcohol plays a role in divorce. This can range from alcohol-fueled arguments to serious alcoholism issues that can lead to abusive or dangerous situations. While you may be able to get a divorce and walk away from the toxic relationship, if you have children together, the alcoholism can continue to be a major concern - particularly as custody is being decided and the children may continue to spend time with the spouse who abuses alcohol.

These are some things parents need to know about how alcohol could affect custody proceedings:

The court wants the child to continue a relationship with both parents - Whenever possible, the court will allow both parents time with the children, knowing that it is most healthy for the child to nurture a relationship with both the mother and the father - in most situations.

The court will take safety into account when deciding custody - While the court wants the child to have a healthy relationship with both parents, it will consider whether or not either parent is fit to spend time with the child and have authority in his or her life. Judges will evaluate evidence regarding the severity of the alcohol issues to determine if they will impact the safety of the child.

Defining  and proving the severity problem can be difficult - The severity of the alcohol abuse can often be a matter of opinion. While alcohol may have placed an unhealthy strain on your relationship with your spouse, it may not actually be severe enough for the court to cut ties between that parent and the children. If the other spouse can show that he or she has the issue under control enough to continue as a fit parent, the court will likely not try to "punish" him or her for bad behavior while drunk - as long as it doesn't affect the safety of the child.

The outcome of the matter could come down to the experience of your attorney - It is critical that you have a veteran family law attorney on your side during these negotiations, if you are truly concerned about the safety and well-being of your children. Your spouse may be able to provide evidence that he or she "has the situation under control," even though you believe otherwise. A skilled lawyer will be able to help you put together evidence showing that the alcohol abuse could affect the safety of your children. Without these strategies, the court could feel as if this is a "he said, she said" situation.

At Magee Zeringue & Richardson, our attorneys often help parents handle difficult situations and issues that they feel could affect the safety of the child. We have strategies and solutions created to fight for the best interests and safety of your child. Call us today to learn more about how we can help with this difficult situation.

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