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How addiction can impact a child custody dispute

Far too many Texas families struggle with addiction. Coming to terms with a friend or family member's drug or alcohol problems can be difficult, especially when there are children involved. For some parents, addiction plays a central role in a child custody dispute. It's important to understand how addiction is likely to impact the child custody process.

Many parents believe that, when their former partner struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, child custody will be a simple procedure. In reality, however, things are never quite so simple. The courts are tasked with making a custody determination that is in line with the best interests of the child. That includes maintaining a close relationship with both parents.

When one parent struggles with addiction, he or she may still enjoy numerous parental rights. That is especially true if the individual is attempting to handle his or her addiction or is actively seeking counseling or other services. In fact, some parents retain full physical and legal custody even while struggling with addiction.

Of course, if the parent's actions place the child in direct harm, then the courts will intervene. In those cases, a sober parent will likely have the upper hand in a child custody dispute. That said, if and when the other parent gets clean and embraces sobriety, he or she will be allowed to re-enter the child's life in a more prominent way.

This can be frustrating for Texas parents who strive to create a calm and stable environment for their children. Struggling with an ex partner's addiction can be challenging. For parents involved in child custody disputes in which addiction plays a role, it's important to secure experienced legal representation. Being able to present a carefully constructed argument to a court is the best way to reach a favorable child custody outcome.

Source:, "Mental Illness, Addiction, and Divorce: Know Your Rights", Tom Metcalf and Christie Smythe, Nov. 8, 2017

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