When You Suspect Drug, Alcohol Abuse By Your Ex: Child Custody

Posted on May 20th, 2020

When you and your ex decided to divorce, you noticed they were taking the breakup rather hard, even though it was a mutual decision. But you never thought they would turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with their emotions. Now, as you have shared custody of your children, you notice that your kids are coming home from their dad’s house telling peculiar stories, and often do not seem to be cared for on those shared days. You wonder if it’s your child’s imagination, or if there is something else going on. 

The next time you see your ex, you decide to sit with them and find out what’s going on. You can’t help but notice the use of cologne to cover the smell of booze on his clothes. Now you don’t feel safe letting the kids stay with their father. What can you do?

When you suspect drug and or alcohol abuse by your ex, you probably have a lot of concerns for the well-being of your children. If you suspect there is alcohol abuse occurring, you may need a child custody modification plan. 

Child Custody Factors

In Pennsylvania, the court looks at a variety of factors when determining custody. These elements include:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Whether the parent will permit and encourage contact between the child and the other parent
  • Domestic violence
  • Ability to meet the physical and emotional needs of the children

When you and your ex decided to share custody, you both met all of the court’s conditions, making the arrangement the perfect fit. But then things changed. So how do you prove to the court that in a matter of months, the custody agreement isn’t working, and your ex may need help?

Court Intervention

You and your ex want what’s best for the children. And you don’t want to villainize him in front of your children because one day, you hope they are able to resume a relationship with him. But you need legal counsel right now to protect the kids.

Typically, the courts will hear of alcohol abuse claims when the first custody arrangement is met. But when the abuse doesn’t occur until later on, the courts will still get involved. Often, you need to document the complaints of abuse and how it’s impacting the children. Don’t be afraid to ask your kids questions about what’s going on. But be sure to keep it neutral. You may be angry and fearful, but your kids need you to be level headed in this process.

If your ex is not willing to respond to court complaints, you may need to file with the Department of Child Protective Services.

The courts will use the best interest of the child to determine the new child custody plan, so don’t be afraid to bring documentation and evidence that something is going on.

The court may rule that the parent abusing alcohol or drugs may need supervised visitation, or in some cases, may need the parent to attend substance abuse counseling or rehabilitation program before visitation can resume.

Suspecting your ex of alcohol or drug abuse can be a scary thing to take on. But you don’t have to do it alone.

Contact the child custody modification attorney Craig Kalinoski today.

You’re worried about your children, and rightfully so. With their best interests in mind, our child custody modification attorney Craig Kalinoski will review your case to come up with a solution that works for all parties involved. Don’t let fear keep you from seeking legal action.

Call (570) 207-4000 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.

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Craig Kalinoski
Craig Kalinoski

Craig P. Kalinoski is a respected attorney serving clients in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With a focus on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Civil Rights, he has established himself as a top-rated legal professional. Recognized as a Rising Star and admired by peers, Craig's commitment to excellence sets him apart in the legal field.


We fight for the rights of our clients in a wide spectrum of practice areas, ranging from criminal defense to family law and personal injury.

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