One of the things that family court judges see daily is the devastation of alcohol and other drug use. This rears its head as a standalone issue but also adds fuel to the flames when people appear in family court. Alcohol and other drug use contribute to: the abuse of children, neglect, and violence between partners. Recent research by Douglas Marlowe, JD, PhD informs us that “up to 80% of family court cases involve substance misuse” (Marlowe, 2012). You don’t have to be a drug abuser to deal with the issue in family court: you only have to be called a drug user.
“Drug addict!” is thrown around family court as an insult, a power grab, as well as truth. It’s an issue so rife with potential disaster that judges simply will not compromise when it comes to drug use. The consequences are steep: limited access to children, supervised visitation with the high cost of paying a court-appointed supervisor, loss of voice in raising the children, and even termination of parental rights.
Recent shifts into collaborative divorce have helped some families. The sad fact is that most divorces end in hurt feelings, an inability to communicate, and depleted financial resources where everybody loses, most notably the children.
Creating a Plan to Navigate Family Court
Demonstrating stability with drug use to a family court requires a plan and strategy. “I used in college but no longer do” is a weak argument which a skilled lawyer will exploit. “It’s just pot, and never when the kids are around” also doesn’t go over well. If one is a current user, there needs to be honesty about the use and demonstrated actions taken to convince the court of safety when caring for children. “People smoke crack and have their kids, I’ll be fine” is another mindset that lands people in trouble. The truth is, children have the potential to thrive with consistency and reliability, and drug use fosters neither. Rationalizing, minimizing, and justifying is a bad plan. Most family courts weigh in favor of motherhood. Courts are hesitant to limit that institution and belief that “children should be with their mother.” Drug use is possibly the only issue that will erode that advantage. There are sharks in suits out there willing to “make her a slut or make her a nut” to gain the desired outcome for their client, regardless of the welfare of the children. Family court can quickly deteriorate into a mess, all facilitated by the question of who is using. What is the past history of drug use? What is the current state of drug use?
Joe has extensive experience is navigating these land mines. He can create a plan of action and a cogent argument to win the confidence of the court to ensure the best possible outcome. Don’t fall into the trap of family court. It’s a losing proposition for all concerned.