Divorcing a spouse with a substance abuse problem can involve complex emotions. You certainly feel some anger and resentment, but you may also understand the overpowering control an addiction can have over your spouse. These matters can be even more complicated if you have children.
If your spouse was able to demonstrate to the court that he or she could control the addiction, the court may have ordered some form of shared custody or visitation. While this may have worked for a while, if you are noticing signs that your ex has returned to drugs or alcohol, you have justifiable reasons for concern over the safety and wellbeing of your children.
Protecting your children
A judge may consider it an act of contempt if you refuse to allow your spouse the court-ordered time with the children. Therefore, if you are worried about the children, you will want to proceed carefully. Fortunately, family courts in California take seriously any reports of substance abuse in parents, but you may still have to present credible documentation to show that your concerns are valid, for example:
- A log of any interactions with your spouse when you suspected he or she was impaired
- Evidence of DUI charges
- Police reports of disturbances or other incidents related to your ex’s drug or alcohol use
- Your ex’s hospital or doctor reports for injuries or illnesses related to substance abuse
- Medical reports of your child whose injuries or illness may connect to your ex’s negligence
- Testimony or affidavits from friends, family members or witnesses to your ex’s substance abuse
- Reports from a social worker
You may feel the situation is already too dangerous to allow your children to be alone with your ex. If this is the case, you may consider filing a restraining order, which will serve the purpose of protecting your children as well as demonstrating to the court the seriousness of the circumstances.
The purpose of the evidence you gather is to show the court that your ex’s addiction interferes with his or her ability to provide proper care and protection for the children. If your complaint is successful, the judge may restrict your ex to supervised visitation or order that your ex pass a drug or alcohol screening before spending time with the children. Like you, the court seeks the children’s best interest. You may find that your chances of achieving your goals improves with the assistance of an attorney.