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Dealing with an Addicted Spouse during or after a Divorce

By Alisse C. Camazine and Lisa G. Moore

Clients frequently asked me how they can make sure that their addicted spouse is not drinking or taking drugs when their child is in the care of their addicted spouse. Because this issue arises all too frequently, family law attorneys have learned to use several valuable tools, employing both special language in court orders and technology that has been developed specifically for this problem. 

One company manufactures a monitoring device that can be used to determine whether a parent caring for a child is under the influence of alcohol. With an appropriate court order, the parent is required to blow into a sensor attached to their cellphone which then sends real-time results to the other parent. 

The monitoring device can be used in multiple ways. One level requires the parent to submit to testing only during their parenting time. A second level requires testing seven days a week, whether someone has the children in their care or not. Normally, testing is done three to four times a day on those days when the parent has the children.

If drug use, rather than alcohol, is the issue, a parent can be ordered to take a drug test regularly to ensure that there is no use of certain drugs.  

Parenting plans can be predicated on a parent being sober or clean, with remedies in place if they are unable to do so, including the possibility of requiring supervision when the children are in their care. Sometimes we negotiate “step-up” plans requiring that if a test shows drug use, the parent will be under supervision for some time. The visits can become unsupervised again if the parent can demonstrate their ability to maintain sobriety.  

Similarly, we can write plans that begin with a parent having limited time until they can demonstrate they can remain sober. Once this happens, the periods they have the children in their care are extended.   

Parenting plans are probably the most important contracts family law attorneys write, and drafting a plan that protects the children of an addicted parent can be challenging. An experienced family law attorney understands the potential problems in addressing these challenges. 

The family law attorneys of Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal can assess your situation and advise you about the options available that will best protect your children.


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