Ending a marriage comes with many important and difficult decisions. When it comes to divorce legal issues, to many Pennsylvanians, none are as important as child custody and visitation. Depending on how the matter sorts out, an individual may find him or herself part of a joint custody arrangement, whereby the parents share physical and legal custody. In other situations, though, one parent may successfully seek sole physical or sole legal and physical custody. These arrangements can change, too, if circumstances warrant a modification. With one’s relationship with his or her child on the child, it becomes imperative that parents put forth strong legal arguments to support their position.
One reason why parents may want to either seek sole physical custody or some sort of custody modification is substance abuse by the child’s other parent. As we have discussed previously on this blog, child custody determinations are made in light of the child’s best interests. So, when it comes to substance abuse, a parent seeking to establish or modify custody will need to present evidence that substance abuse is an issue and how that may affect the child’s safety and well-being.
There are many shapes this evidence can take. One of the most common is police records evidencing arrests for possession or conviction for drug-related charges. Eyewitness accounts of drug use are also extremely powerful. Once an individual can establish that substance abuse is an issue, it must be shown that the substance abuse renders the parent unfit. Evidence regarding the child’s statements, testimony of a child’s therapist or accounts of how the substance abuse has affected the parent’s physical and mental capabilities may show this.
Drug use is too common of a problem throughout Pennsylvania. When that use affects children, legal action might have to be taken to ensure such children are safe. Parents can take this action on their own by acquiring the assistance of a qualified family law attorney who can help them fight to establish or modify custody accordingly.