It is no secret that substance abuse continues its icy grip in Florida. Every day, seemingly functional people, are addicted to illicit substances. Their addictions can have long-lasting ramifications that can have a far reach. Perhaps none is more important than the effects parental drug use can have on a child. Understanding how substance abuse effects children can be important for many reasons, but perhaps chief amongst them is to better understand how the issue may affect child custody and visitation arrangements.
The sad reality is that many children who live in households with substance abuse blame themselves for parental drug usage. This may cause some children to become withdrawn out of fear of triggering substance abuse. It may cause others to be overly active in hopes of alleviating whatever they perceive as a trigger for drug or alcohol abuse.
Children of alcohol or drug abusers may also develop behavioral and other issues. Their school performance may dwindle, and they may inappropriately take on responsibility for caring for their own siblings. The emotional affects can be enormous, too. A child may develop a profound sense of mistrust, shame, confusion, guilt or fear. Each of these emotional problems can perpetuate additional issues related to one’s school and social life. In the worst cases, a parent’s drug use can lead to child abuse, neglect and even homelessness due to unemployment.
When child custody and visitation issues are decided, a judge will base that decision on the child’s best interests. The party seeking to obtain custody or modify an existing custody order carries the burden of why their proposed custody and visitation arrangement furthers the child’s best interests. Putting forth evidence of substance abuse and its effect on a child can be powerful in these matters, which is why those confronting them should consider having a competent family law professional on their side to help advocate for them and their children’s well-being.