How does drug addiction affect child custody?

If you are struggling with substance abuse, you are far from alone. In fact, according to a recent survey, nearly half of Americans say they know someone who has or has had a drug addiction. While seeking treatment may be beneficial for you and your kids, you also do not want news of your addiction to damage your child custody case.

To gauge your risk, it is important to understand how judges in the Keystone State make child-related decisions.

The best interests of the child standard

Like in many other places, Pennsylvania judges have a legal duty to consider what is in the best interests of the children when determining custody. For cases in the commonwealth, this means judges take an in-depth look into 16 separate factors. Drug addiction undercuts many of these factors, as it may put the health and well-being of children in immediate danger.

Your history of rehabilitation

It is not usually a good idea to hide drug addiction from a judge, as the judge is likely to find out about it anyway. Still, any evidence you have of rehabilitation may persuade the court to give you the custody-related outcome you want. If you have a history of substance abuse, you may need to undergo supervised visits or submit to random drug tests to maintain custody of your kids.

The potential of losing custody of your children may cause you to relapse or self-medicate. Ultimately, by taking proactive steps to address your addiction, you may prove that having an ongoing relationship with your kids is in their best interests.


FindLaw Network