One of the most common concerns of divorcing parents is alcohol abuse by one of the parents. This has been an even larger concern post-Covid. Many times both parties have similar concerns (or at least claim concern) for the children while in the care of the other parent. Litigation of this issue often causes extreme animosity between the parties as well as significant additional legal fees for both parties.
Since alcohol is legal, it is difficult for the courts to mandate orders that affect an adult person’s legal rights. A very common Order which may come from the family courts is for the parties not to consume alcohol to excess while in a caregiving role. In reality, this is restating a parental obligation.
Often a significant problem when presenting this issue to the court is proving that a child is, has been, or may be subject to neglect due to the alcohol concerns. If you have left your child with any other person who is impaired, you have placed the child in that neglected or dependent state. Additionally, if the child was unattended, there may be a duty to report neglect to Child Protective Services.
Alcohol abuse is generally proven by court records and possibly by testimony. If you or your spouse has multiple convictions for alcohol related offenses such as DUI, OVI, public intoxication and the like, then your case becomes stronger. Other evidence may be being fired from job for cause and it is specifically stated that intoxicated on the job, or video evidence of a person while severely impaired. Most often, one spouse complains that the other drinks daily, drinks to excess or is unable to control the drinking. Without additional proof, Courts are ill prepared to handle this or other potential concerns.
If you have an alcohol problem, get assistance from AA or other professionals. If the other spouse has concerns and you are able to stop, it is good legal advice to discontinue use at least during the course of your separation. Removing that concern should let down concerns for ability to co-parent your child(ren). Of course, the age and maturity of the children will factor heavily in how a court may consider alcohol use and/or abuse by a parent.
For consultation regarding dissolution and custody and advise on how to either deal with the concern for alcohol abuse or gain the proof that a court will act upon, contact Michael Bouldin at 859-581-6453 (581-MIKE), email [email protected] or use this Contact Form.