The Impact of Substance Abuse on Child Custody Cases

Divorce is a challenging process, especially when children are involvedBoth parents may want custody over their child(ren) to continue bonding. When you and your ex-partner cannot reach a legal agreement for child custody, the judge will decide for you. In Colorado, substance abuse can severely impact child custody casesspecifically when it endangers the child. Continue reading to explore the impact of substance abuse on child custody cases. 

Drug Abuse Allegations

Substance abuse is a serious allegation that you should never make on a whim. False allegations in Court can reflect poorly on the accuser. If you believe or know your ex abuses substances, you can submit a motion to the Court to request that the other parent undergo a drug test or undergo monitoring for alcohol abuse.

Evidence of substance abuse could come from the parent’s behavior, third-party accounts, or other tangible evidence supporting the claim. Never make drug abuse allegations without any proof. Likewise, before making any allegations, talk with your family law custody attorney about it. They can help determine whether you have reasonable cause to file a claim of substance abuse against the other party.

The Impact on Parenting Time

Family courts in Colorado typically encourage shared custody and want both parents to be a part of the child’s life. However, if the accused parent agrees to take the drug test and it shows they abuse substances—alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drugs—it can negatively impact their custody case. This is especially true if the parent’s substance abuse endangers the children’s safety. Again, the Court’s primary concern is always to promote and protect children’s best interests in custody cases.

A Court could also order a substance abuse evaluation for the party or appoint a child and family investigator (or CFI) to further investigate the accusations and whether the child is safe. The CFI will interview the parents and third parties, conduct a home visit, and review any test results for current or past substance abuse monitoring. A Court will apply the best-interest-of-the-child standard in making decisions regarding the child.

Supervised Visitation

Sometimes, the judge grants supervised visitation to the parent misusing a substance. This depends on several external factors and whether the parent can otherwise provide a safe place for their kids. Additionally, a parent seeking treatment is more likely to be approved for supervised visitation.

Supervised visitation means that the parent can spend limited and supervised time with their children. The supervisor is usually a trained professional or a neutral third party who remains present throughout the visit. Supervised visits allow the parent and child to bond without putting the latter in danger.

The Impact of Accepting Treatment

In Colorado, family courts find it admirable when a parent genuinely tries to address their substance abuse problems. Seeking treatment and rehabilitation shows a willingness to put the child’s well-being first and address the root cause of the problem.

Hire an Attorney

Substance abuse in child custody cases is a delicate topic that can drastically impact the case outcome for both parents. Understanding the impact of substance abuse on child custody cases makes it easier for you to move forward during your case. Furthermore, contacting an attorney at the start of your divorce makes it easier to achieve your legal goals. Jones Law Firm, PC, has over 20 years of experience, and we strive to meet all our client goals. Get the best legal team on your side.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Our team includes attorneys licensed to practice in multiple states including April D. Jones in California, Patrick G. Barkman in Texas, the Cherokee Nation, the Northern District of Texas, and the District of Colorado (United States Court of Appeals 10th and 5th Circuit).