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Parenting Time Issues: Alcohol or Drug Problems

 Posted on August 30, 2018 in Family Law

MI custody lawyerGenerally speaking, Michigan law holds that it is in a child’s best interest to maintain continuous relationships with both parents after a divorce. But what if you suspect that your ex is using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol or prescription medications? For example, your ex might appear drunk or high when the children are picked up or dropped off, or the children might tell you that they have seen drug use or excessive drinking.

When the safety of your children is at risk, and you are unable to work out a satisfactory solution with your ex directly, you may need to take legal action. Your attorney can file a motion with the family court requesting specific actions or changes to your parenting time arrangements to protect the best interests of the children. Here are some of your options.

Request Testing and/or Investigation for Substance Abuse

If you suspect that your ex is unable to properly care for your children due to drug or alcohol abuse, the court can order drug testing. A Friend of the Court investigation can also be ordered to obtain more details about the situation and recommendations from an objective investigator.

There are even remote monitoring services (using breathalyzers that report results through the internet) can be used to ensure your ex is not drinking excessively or driving and driving during their parenting time.

Note, however, that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act of 2008 states that a parent cannot be denied custody or visitation simply because they use doctor-prescribed cannabis. Even illegal use of marijuana in the past, assuming no evidence of current use, should not be a factor in parenting time decisions. However, if there is clear, substantiated evidence that a parent’s current behavior poses a threat to a child’s well-being, a Friend of the Court investigator can factor that into their report and recommendations. For example, if a parent is careless about keeping cannabis away from the children, this could count against the parent.

Request Additions to Your Parenting Time Order

When a couple with children divorces, the court-approved divorce papers will include a parenting time order. In a relatively amicable divorce, the order may simply state that each parent will have “reasonable parenting time.” This leaves the parents the flexibility to work out the details of the schedule between themselves. Alternatively, your parenting time order might contain a very detailed parenting time schedule, with dates and times when each parent will have the children.

In either case, you can petition the court to add new provisions to your parenting time order.

For example, if a parent is currently undergoing treatment for substance abuse, you might ask the court to order agency-supervised visitation. The supervising agency could be a substance abuse treatment center, a Friend of the Court office, or a counseling center.

If a parent has completed treatment for drug or alcohol abuse but has not yet established that they are completely stable, you could ask for visitation to be supervised by a friend, relative, or other individual designated by the court.

If your ex violates a parenting time order, you can file a complaint with the Michigan Friend of the Court office, which must enforce parenting time orders.

Trusted Child Custody Attorneys Serving Livonia and Plymouth

If your ex displays signs of alcohol or drug abuse, and you are concerned about the safety of your children while in the care of that parent, you may need to seek a court-approved change to your parenting time order. Seek counsel from an experienced Wayne County parenting time lawyer. Call Elkouri Heath PLC at 248-344-9700 for a free initial consultation.







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