Child custody battles can be messy and complex, and with the addition of substance abuse issues in one parent or both, the legality of the situation can overshadow the needs of the children.  Most parents with substance abuse disorder deeply love their children, and many fear that by seeking out treatment they will be giving their spouse, or ex-spouse, ammunition against them in a custody trial.  Treatment, however, is necessary for an addicted parent to become a fit caretaker and regain the ability to be present for their child. Parents struggling with addiction or family members concerned for the custody outcomes of children should educate themselves as much as possible about treatment options and resources that may be able to help.

Possible Custody Outcomes During Recovery

Courts usually try to grant custody to one or both parents if at all possible, as the main interest of the court is to ensure the wellbeing of the child.  Unfortunately, addiction sometimes leads to legal trouble and endangering behavior that may result in the withdrawal of custody rights. Someone who has been arrested on a drug or alcohol-related charge, or who fails to submit to a drug test as part of a custody hearing, may be vulnerable to losing custody of their child.  The type of addiction may become a factor in custody determinations as well, as courts usually consider addiction to methamphetamines more of a risk to the safety of the child than an addiction to alcohol. In many cases, custody decisions made by the court are temporary and come with a set of conditions that must be met before custody rights are reinstated.  These conditions usually include some sort of recovery program and may ask that you join a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous. However, if you have tried quitting before and are prone to relapse, it may be time to consider a more in-depth approach. This may be a good time to check yourself into an inpatient recovery program to show the court, and your child, that you are doing everything possible to maintain your sobriety and become a fit parent.  

Whether you have been mandated by the court to complete a recovery program, or you have chosen to participate in inpatient treatment, your child may have to stay with another parent or family member that can care for them while you are away.  It can be very difficult to be away from your child for an extended period of time if you aren’t used to the separation, but it is important to keep in mind that by choosing the most extensive treatment program available, you are doing what is best for your child and becoming the parent they deserve.  If you have small children, it can be difficult to explain your absence, but remember that they will grow to learn that you made the best decision you could for their wellbeing, when faced with the hardship of addiction. 

After Treatment  

If you have been legally ordered to complete a treatment program after having your custody withdrawn, you may have additional requirements to fulfill before you can be granted parental rights again.  You may have to continue to take drug tests or show proof of participation in an outpatient treatment program. If your addiction caused you to lose your job or home, you will likely have to reestablish financial stability and prove that you are able to provide food and shelter for your child.  Even after many of these requirements are met, you may only be granted supervised visitation until the court deems you to be fully recovered and fit for the care of a child.

Family dynamics after someone in the immediate family has completed an inpatient addiction recovery program vary greatly and may depend on your relationship with your child’s other caregiver.  Whether you wish to reconcile a relationship with your spouse or learn how to effectively co-parent with an ex, many treatment centers offer extended family counseling that will teach you and your loved ones how to best facilitate a healthy and stable family unit for the child or children involved.  

Getting Help

Becoming a parent is one of life’s greatest blessings and heaviest responsibilities.  Addiction can cause you to neglect many of your responsibilities and hurt those you love the most, including your children.  The guilt and shame that comes with an inability to provide for your children, emotionally or financially, can become overwhelming and lead those struggling with addiction and child custody issues to give up, and relapse.  Your children deserve for you to keep fighting. Choosing to enter long-term, inpatient treatment may be your only path to lasting sobriety. Choose to make a change for the sake of your kids and yourself, and reach out to us today. 

 

At Burning Tree Ranch, we specialize in long-term care that produces real results, especially for those who have experienced relapse.  Here you will find a team of qualified and compassionate professionals, ready to help each client through a customized treatment program that addresses all aspects of addiction, including the identification of co-occurring disorders.  We know that the journey towards recovery doesn’t end with the conclusion of an inpatient program, and therefore we provide extensive aftercare programs to best support our clients during their transition into lasting sobriety. We also know that addiction affects the whole family, and therefore loved ones are encouraged to participate in the recovery process and take advantage of all our support resources.  For more information, call us today at  512-285-5900