Custody Disputes Caused By Alcoholism

Family Law Blog

Custody Disputes Caused By Alcoholism

December 6, 2019 | Divorce, Parenting (Child Custody)

Custody Disputes Caused By Alcoholism

custody dispute involves two primary issues: a parenting schedule and decision-making responsibilities.  A parenting schedule details the amount of time the child spends with each parent throughout the year.  Decision making responsibilities pertains to the parent designated to make decisions on behalf of the child. 

A parenting schedule is determined by the number of overnights each parent has with the child each week.  The schedule is determined by the unique circumstances of each case. Decision making responsibilities include four major categories of decisions: education, health, religion and extra-curricular activities.  Parents can share in making these decisions or one parent could be allocated sole decisionmaker for any or all of these categories. The allocation of these decisionmaking responsibilities is based upon the unique circumstances of each case. 

If there is no agreement regarding a parenting schedule and/or decisionmaking responsibilities, then the parties have what is often referred to a “custody dispute.” There are many circumstances which can lead to a custody dispute, but one of the most common and most challenging, is when one parent alleges the other parent is an alcoholic and poses a danger to the children. 

Judges take allegations of alcoholism very seriously because protecting the children in a divorce is one of paramount importance.  If there is an allegation of alcohol abuse, a judge will likely appoint a Guardian ad Litem or Child Representative to investigate the claim.  A judge may also order the parent to undergo psychological testing.  If the allegation has any merit, judges will often limit the parent’s parenting time with the child or order the parenting time be supervised, usually by a family memberAdditionally, a judge may want to ensure that the parent is not drinking.  In order to monitor this, a judge may order a parent to test in a portable breathalyzer throughout the day (Soberlink) or wear an ankle bracelet (SCRAM) which monitors the levels of alcohol in the skin.  The parent may want to get treatment or attend AA meetings to show the judge that he/she is serious about sobriety.   

For a parent who is alleged to have a drinking problem, it is critical that he/she has the right counsel to assist him/her through this difficult process and to prove to the judge that there is no danger to the children.  For a parent who is concerned about his/her spouse’s drinking, it is critical that he/she has the right attorney to  ensure the spouse gets help and is not a danger to the children, or, alternatively, to ensure that the spouse has limited parenting time.  

The Botti Law Firm, P.C. has been serving DuPage and Cook County residents for nearly 50 years. We have vast experience handling cases involving divorce. If you would like to speak to one of our experienced attorneys, please email us or call (630) 573-8585 to schedule a free consultation. 

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