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When drug use impacts a child custody case

Drug use is more common than ever in many circles, especially when it comes to the opioid epidemic. The unfortunate reality is that these highly addictive drugs trap people in a cycle of abuse. Many never set out wanting to use drugs in the first place, but they got hooked on painkillers and could not shake it, no matter what they tried.

Drug use and addiction are two main reasons for divorce, both in Ohio and elsewhere in the United States. These are deep issues that can really impact a relationship. People often cannot break an addiction on their own, and so it can make a spouse feel like the only option they have is to move on from the relationship.

If that is the decision you make, what does your ex's drug use have to do with the child custody portion of the case? Is it going to prevent your ex from seeking custody or give you an edge?

On the other hand, perhaps you are the spouse who suffers from an unwanted addiction and, despite your best efforts, you have not been able to break free from it. You don't want that to mean you never see your kids again. How is that history of use, abuse and addiction going to play into the case?

Caring for the child

Drug use does not always mean a parent cannot get custody. There are two main things the court looks for, the first of which is whether or not the drug use impacts your actual ability to care for the child. If the addiction hinders that ability, then they may not give you custody.

Remember, the child's best interests come first. The child deserves a home with a parent who can care for them. That's what the court wants to see. They're not passing judgment on someone for an addiction. They just want to see the child get put into a good situation.

Danger to the child's well-being

The second factor, as you may have guessed, is whether or not the parent's drug use puts the child in danger. They deserve a safe home. The court will do all they can to keep them out of a dangerous living situation.

What red flags will they consider? A home inspection can tell them a lot. Are there drugs that the child has access to? Are there weapons in the home? Does the parent have a violent criminal record?

Your rights

As you can see, the opioid crisis can impact custody cases, but there are a lot of questions to ask. Make sure you understand what rights you have and what steps you can take as your marriage ends.

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Rising Star Susan M. Suriano WBA OHIO Women's Bar Association Woman Lawyer of Franklin County Young Leaders of Licking County

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