Maddox & Gerock

703-883-8035

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How parental substance abuse can affect child custody

Although child custody disputes that play out in court are meant to find an arrangement that supports the best interests of the children involved, oftentimes they devolve into presentations meant to cast the other parent in as unfavorable of a light as possible.

The two issues are not completely separate, though. Parents may have to point out the other parent's faults, if only to highlight how a proposed custody and visitation plan is not in the child's best interests.

Take, for example, parental substance abuse. While drug and alcohol use can certainly have a negative impact on a parent's life, it can also negatively impact his or her children. To start, substance abuse can create a chaotic home life where routine is frequently disrupted or nonexistent, thereby making it difficult for a child to obtain a sense of stability. Additionally, parental substance abuse can increase a child's likelihood of developing significant mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicide.

That may sound scary enough, but the truth is that parental substance abuse has additional risks. It increases the chances of a child being abused or neglected, and it can even cause children to develop physical illnesses.

The school performance of these children can be negatively impacted, and they may develop a sense of shame knowing that their parents struggle with substances and, in many instances, the fact that the child has to care for younger siblings.

Of course, it's not possible to prove that all of these characteristics exist in every case. Yet, by being aware of the effects of parental substance abuse on children, a Virginia parent may be able to develop a legal strategy that works for him or her as well as his or her children.

While many child custody and visitation disputes resolve through negotiation, sometimes they wind up being litigated. This is why these parents need to be ready aggressively represent their position, whether at the negotiation table or in the courtroom.

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Maddox & Gerock, P.C.
8111 Gatehouse Road
Suite 410
Falls Church, VA 22042
Phone: 703-883-8035
Fax: 703-356-6120
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