RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
“Prospective clients may not obtain the same or similar results.”

Substance Abuse Issues in Child Custody


Family in need of attorney

The Gainesville – Ocala Attorneys, of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A., represent parents in family law proceedings involving child custody. In making a custodial determinations, the court will evaluate all factors affecting the welfare and interests of the minor child, including, but not limited to those set forth by the Best Interest Criterion. While each factor will be assessed separately, it is often necessary to give more weight to a particular factor in order to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. Substance abuse issues in child custody matters is an example of a potential parenting impairment that is often given more weight, because such problems can diminish a parent’s capacity to parent effectively.

In determining what is best for a child, Florida Statute 61.13(3)(q) requires the court to consider:

“The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.”

Often time, substance abuse issues will also play a role in the court’s evaluation of other best interest criterion, such as those related to a parent’s moral fitness, mental health physical health, as well as those associated with continuity, consistency, and stability. In short, a parent’s abuse of drugs or alcohol can have a profound impact on the outcome of a custody case.

In understanding the effect substance abuse problems might have on custodial determinations, it is helpful to consider the issue from the perspective of each parent. However, in reading the following, note that regardless as to whether custody is denied due to substance abuse, that parent may still be entitled to access to the child, even if such access involves supervised visitation.

From the standpoint of a parent that wishes to assert the other parent’s substance abuse as grounds for diminished parenting capacity and/or potential detriment to child, it is crucial to know the appropriate manners of supporting such claims. Simply stating that the other parent has a substance abuse problem, without providing proof, is generally insufficient. In some cases, substance abuse issues may already be documented, whether in medical records or involvement in prior (criminal or civil) legal proceedings. In other cases, the presence of a current or ongoing problem needs to be established, and supported by evidence (i.e. evaluation by a qualified drug and alcohol abuse specialist, expert witness testimony, and/or character witness testimony.)

For a parent facing accusations of substance abuse in a child custody proceedings, it is important to consider defense strategies, particularly in circumstances where the allegations were false, or that parent has already overcome a substance abuse issue. In addition to undergoing evaluation by a medical professional, it is often necessary to present expert and/or character witness testimony. Where a diagnosis of a substance abuse disorder no longer presents a problem, it is critical to show that both treatment was sought, and that the outcome of treatment was successful.

Confidential Consultation

Contact Us Today For Your Confidential Consultation:

Give us a call now
call Substance Abuse Issues in Child Custody(352) 327-3643


Determining whether parenting is compromised by a substance abuse problem, requires, at a very minimum, assessment of the following:

    • The nature and quality of the parent’s supervision of the child. For example, is there a risk that the parent drinks while supervising the child? Does the parent ever black out when with the child?
    • Reports from significant others about drinking or drug use and whether they tend to confirm or disagree with the parent’s self-reporting.
    • The extent of the parent’s support system in seeking and completing treatment, and participating in post-treatment, e.g., support groups.
    • The specific history of substance use/abuse in the parent’s family.
    • The parent’s testimony or admission as to ever having a substance abuse problem.
    • How long the parent has been abusing substances.
    • Whether or not the parent is currently receiving treatment and what progress is being made, as determined by treatment specialists working with the parent.
    • Whether or not the parent has been known to drink or abuse drugs and drive. If the parent has had one or more drunk driving convictions, when was each conviction and what was the corresponding sentence? If there is continued concern about the parent’s sobriety, you may consider ordering the parent to undergo random alcohol and drug screening, such as urine screens and/or breathalyzer tests, and regular attendance at AA meetings.
    • Does the child express reservations about driving or being alone with the parent?
    • Have children been given alcohol while visiting?

If you are a parent with a question or concern regarding the impact of a substance abuse issue in a legal proceeding involving the custody of a minor child, Karen S. Yochim and the Family Law Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. want to help you and your family attain resolution and stability. Let us—go to work for you.