In this article, you can discover
- Domestic violence must be proven with evidence to make a difference in child custody arrangements.
- Substance abuse allegations must also be proven with evidence to make a difference in child custody arrangements.
- While a parenting plan is meant to be in effect until each child turns 18, parents can return to the court to change it.
How Is Child Custody Handled When Domestic Violence Is Alleged Between Parties?
Domestic violence allegations are easy to make, but hard to prove. Without proof, a domestic violence allegation often turns into a “he-said, she-said” fight, which makes it hard for the court to decide which party is telling the truth. To protect your children from domestic violence during the divorce process, you can go before the court and ask for temporary orders to be put into place. This way, you can ensure that any time the children spend with that parent is supervised and restricted. Courts are unlikely to restrict a parent’s parenting time like this without sufficient evidence of domestic violence and/or proof that the children are in danger when they are with the other parent, so it is unwise to rush into that kind of hearing without first preparing for it by gathering evidence to submit to the court. Foolishly rushing in without proof might cause the court to rule against you, and you can bet your abuser will point at that ruling for the rest of the case as proof that you tried to unreasonably restrict their rights by making up fake domestic violence allegations.
It is also important to remember that decisions judges make about domestic violence involve both legal decision-making authority and parenting time. A victim of proven domestic violence may be awarded sole legal decision-making authority, but might have a wholly different parenting time order granting their abuser significant time with the children if the abuser never harmed the children and there is no reason to think they will be going forward. For that reason, victims of abuse need to make sure they know what they are asking for going into the courtroom, and need to know why their request is supported by the facts and the law. In addition, courts tend to put protocols in place to limit the interaction that a victim has with their abuser. Besides communication protocols, such as limiting communication between the parties to communications that relate only to the minor children, these protocols can include a parenting time plan that limits contact between the parents as much as possible – for example, a parenting plan that only involves school pick-ups/drop-offs, so the parents don’t have contact with each other, or a parenting plan that includes third-party exchanges in public places.
Do Substance Abuse Allegations Have To Be Proven In A Child Custody Case?
An allegation of substance abuse has to be proven in court for there to be an impact on the child custody orders. It tends to be a little easier to prove substance abuse allegations in particular because there are hair and urine tests that can be administered to prove the abuse.
If the allegation is that the other parent is abusing alcohol, while the proof will not show up in a hair test, it will show up in urinalysis. For alcohol, it’s usually going to be a urine test, and it’s going to be ordered for several months. For drug tests, it will usually be a hair follicle test to check for past use, followed by periodic random testing (though further testing might not happen if the hair follicle test comes up clean). Clean tests will typically resolve these allegations, while dirty tests will prompt further testing, typically until nothing but clean tests come up for a set period of time (usually a few months).
The main concern here is determining whether the substance use occurs during parenting time. If tests evidence positive hits for alcohol or drugs on the days that person is supposed to have the children, they will probably see their parenting time-limited or supervised. On the other hand, a parent using alcohol or legal drugs when the children aren’t with them will probably be ignored by the court, provided they aren’t using to excess and impairing the judgment (for example: driving while under the influence, being too high to attend parent-teacher conferences, etc.).
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Family Law, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy.