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Laura Dale & Associates, P.C.

The struggle of co-parenting with an addict

Maybe you smell it on their breath or see it in their eyes. Maybe you have known for years. Either way co-parenting with someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol might be the hardest thing you will have to do. You will try to convince, beg and bargain for them to get clean but they won't change until they are ready. At some point the frustration turns into concern for your kids.

Don't turn a blind eye

A true addict will jump through hoops to justify their behavior. They might tell you they are clean one day and the next day completely forget to pick the kids up from school. Don't go on ignoring the problem. It is important to address their substance abuse issue and tell them that you do not condone the behavior. If you worry about your child's wellbeing then you will need to take further measures.

If you already have full custody, known as sole managing conservatorship in Texas, then you will need to set strict rules for visitation. If the other parent is attempting sobriety then some guidelines might help nudge them in the right direction. You can create a written contract which includes specific pick up or drop off times, rules for behavior while around the children, and check-in requirements. You should include in the requests that they must not consume any alcohol or drugs during visitation. If the other parent signs then you have set concrete rules for them to follow. If they cannot follow those rules then you can discuss the next steps about going to court with your attorney.

The next steps for parents sharing joint custody

If you both have custody, known as joint managing conservatorship, then you might want to consider modifying the plan. There are several reasons why a court would consider giving you sole conservatorship, including if the other parent has a history of violence, neglect, or substance abuse problems.

If your co-parent is showing signs that they forget to make dinner for your child, they drive them around drunk, or they physically abuse them then it is time to take control. If you both agree that switching custody will be the best choice then the process is easy. In most cases addicts do not want to admit that they have a problem, and therefore would not want to admit that they cannot be held responsible for their kid. It is more likely that they will put up a fight. In these cases it is important to have an attorney by your side.

Requirements for changing custody

You will need to file a Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship with your attorney to start the process. Now in order to change to sole conservatorship, you will need to prove to the court the following:

  • That the changes are in the best interest of your child
  • That circumstances have changed or the child is over age 12 and has a preference for the change
  • The current environment could endanger your child's health or emotional development

Living with an addict can be physically and emotionally traumatic. If your co-parent has a substance abuse problem then it is best to act right away.

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