Navigating a child custody dispute can be heart-wrenching. As you and your child’s other parent fight over what you believe is best for your kid, the child is often caught in the middle, often wanting to spend time with both parents. While that’s understandable, that isn’t always the safest outcome for them.
In fact, if you suspect that your child is being exposed to parental substance abuse, your child may be in danger. If you want to protect them, now is probably the time to take action by seeking a custody modification. But before you do that, you need to understand how exposure to substance abuse can affect your child so that you can better argue why a modification is necessary.
Parental substance abuse and its impact on children
Far too many children are exposed to parental substance abuse, and the ramifications can be tremendous. If your child is in that situation now, they may be at risk of any of the following:
- Easy access to illicit substances
- Having to take on parental responsibilities
- Excessive worry
- Behavioral issues
- Poor school performance
Keep in mind, too, that these impacts can have ripple effects that lead to long-term emotional and psychological trauma. So, if you’ve seen any of these symptoms in your child, you need to start gathering the evidence that you need to support your position.
How to gather evidence to support a custody modification request
Fortunately, there are a lot of places to look for evidence of parental substance abuse. Here are just some areas where you can start your search:
- Police reports
- Criminal records
- The other parent’s behavior and appearance
- Your child’s statements
- Records from your child’s therapist
- Witness accounts
- Drug treatment records
- Drug screen results
Getting access to some of these records, especially if they’re related to your child’s other parent’s mental health or substance abuse treatment, can be difficult. But if you know how to effectively navigate the legal system, you’ll stand a better chance of getting access to the information that you need.
Filing your motion
Once you have strong evidence in hand, you can prepare to file your motion. When you do so, you’ll need to be as specific as possible as to how there’s been a material change in circumstances that impact your child, and how your proposed modification will better support your child’s best interest.
Once you lay down that argument and file your motion, the court will set the matter for a hearing. In preparation for that hearing, you’ll need to gather documentary evidence and witnesses who can testify on your behalf. While you want to be diligent here, you also want to make sure that you’re anticipating the other parent’s arguments so that you can effectively counter them.
You can have a helping hand in crafting your legal strategy
There’s a lot at stake when you seek a custody modification, and you have to be prepared to deal with the nuances of your case if you want to stand a chance of winning your argument. Fortunately, legal professionals are here to help you carry the burden of building your case.
A competent attorney can gather evidence and tailor your legal arguments to speak to the best interest factors identified by law. Then, by zealously advocating for you in court, you’ll hopefully be able to reach an outcome that keeps your child safe and protects your relationship with them.
So, if you’re ready to learn about what an attorney can do for you, now is the time to think about reaching out to a legal team that’s right for you.