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Allegations of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in a Florida Custody Case


Under recent changes to Florida’s rules, parents are allotted 50/50 timesharing as the default arrangement ordered by the courts. However, the Florida courts also use a “best interests of the child” standard to deviate from the default presumption when it is appropriate. If one parent is determined to be unfit, they may have limited time sharing, supervised visits, or be denied visitation altogether. Allegations such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, a history of domestic violence, or substance abuse issues may force the courts to reevaluate their standard. Substance abuse issues can compromise a parent’s ability to care for their child. The courts recognize this and respond appropriately. If you suspect that your ex has a current substance abuse problem that places your children in danger, you should bring this up with your Tampa, FL divorce lawyer.

Proving allegations of substance abuse in a divorce case 

As mentioned earlier, Florida courts default on the notion that children should spend an equal amount of time with both parents. In order to deviate from this standard, one parent must make allegations of unfitness against the other parent. Proving these allegations is more difficult than you might imagine. If you allege that your spouse has a drug or alcohol problem, you will need to prove it in court. Florida courts are required to take all allegations of substance abuse seriously. They do, however, require evidence that the parent has a current substance abuse problem. In other words, you cannot allege that the co-parent had a prior substance abuse problem. It must be current. Because these types of allegations are often used by unscrupulous parents to deny parental rights to another parent, the courts will heavily scrutinize any allegations made by the parent.

If you believe that your co-parent is unfit due to a current substance abuse problem, you will want to discuss the matter with your divorce lawyer. Your attorney can then take several steps to prove that there is a current substance abuse problem that places the children in danger. This can include:

  • Requesting an order from the court for alcohol and drug tests
  • Providing evidence that there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Providing witnesses who can corroborate your claims of substance abuse
  • Requesting the appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem (an advocate who represents the interests of the children)

Generally speaking, the courts will only consider ongoing or chronic substance abuse issues when determining the best interests of the children. Parents who have been to treatment or do not have a current substance abuse problem will likely not qualify for supervised visitation or the restriction of visitation.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Child Custody Attorney Today 

The Tampa, FL divorce attorneys at Westchase Law, P.A. represent the interests of parents who are fighting for child custody. If you believe your ex is unfit to care for the children, we can help you prove your allegations in court. Call our office today to schedule an appointment and learn more about how we can help.

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