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How Does Alcohol Abuse Affect Child Custody in Colorado?

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Can custody change if one parent is an alcoholic?

Anyone who is familiar with family law, particularly custody battles, probably knows how contentious they can be, but if one parent is an alcoholic, custody can become a much larger issue.  If you are divorced and are seeking advice for dealing with an alcoholic ex-spouse, consult with an experienced Colorado Springs child custody lawyer.   While parental rights are often decided at the time of divorce, a custody order can still be modified based on your ex-spouse’s current lifestyle and behavior.  

Documentation of Alcohol Abuse

Like any post-decree divorce issue, it makes sense to consult with a Colorado family attorney before filing a petition for a change in custody.  Your lawyer will help you gather evidence that the alcoholic parent is truly a danger to his or her children.  This may require police reports of DUI arrests, if any, as well as any other alcohol-related offenses.  You will need to document everything that would prove to the court that your ex-spouse has a serious drinking problem.  Family members or friends may be willing to testify in court on your behalf about their personal experiences with your ex-spouse while he/she was intoxicated.  Most importantly, you will want to demonstrate how this behavior endangers the safety of the children while they are in the custody of the alcoholic parent.

Testing for Alcohol Abuse

If the alcoholic parent is able to prove to the court that he or she has undergone treatment for alcohol abuse, the court may decide to wait until that parent has been sober for a sufficient amount of time before revisiting the revised custody order.   Most drug tests are unreliable in determining ongoing alcohol abuse, but the new hair alcohol test has become the most accurate method of testing.  As hair grows, it absorbs properties from everything we ingest, including chemicals, food, drugs and alcohol.  These properties remain indefinitely, and the more alcohol one consumes, the more it will show up in the hair shaft.  Perhaps the best part about this test is that it shows alcohol use for up to the past 12 months.   As a result, it is considered the most scientific means for documenting alcoholism concerns. 

Moving Forward

The key issue here is not to demonize the alcoholic, but rather to look out for the best interests of the children.  If you currently share physical custody of the children, the judge can weigh all of the evidence presented in court and decide to grant only supervised visitation, or at least see to it that the children do not get into a car with the alcoholic parent.   Consult with a Colorado Parental Rights attorney and let the evidence speak for itself. 

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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