As of 2019, the National Institute of Health estimated that nearly 15 million people over the age of twelve in the United States suffered from Alcohol Use Disorder. In addition, there’s emerging evidence that the psychological and economic stress of the pandemic has caused alcohol consumption to increase. Alcoholism is a large and continuing issue in public health, and if you got divorced because of your spouse’s drinking, you’re already aware of the tremendous burden it places on a marriage.
Even after your divorce, with custody agreement and visitation schedule finalized, your ex-husband’s problem with alcohol can still disrupt your life. He may have gotten clean during the legal proceedings but started drinking again after the final judgment had been handed down. It is important to keep a close eye on the situation to ensure he is not drinking around the kids when they are with him.
Are the Kids Safe During Visitation?
While it’s frustrating that your ex-spouse’s drinking problems are still following you after you have divorced, there may be no other choice but to get involved when it comes to the care of your child/children. Before you take legal action, try speaking with your ex-spouse about your suspicions. With the exception for example, if the two of you are sharing transportation responsibilities and you suspect he is driving while under the influence. If the situation warrants, you might consider sending the police for a wellness check or calling child protective services, then immediately seek advice of an experienced attorney as to your options.
Depending on the age of your children, you might consider discussing with them safety concerns regarding alcohol. Let them know that if they feel unsafe that you will come pick them up. Empower them to understand that they do not need to get in a car with their parent, if they feel that driving with them would be unsafe. And remind them that depending on where they are, whether it be at school, sports practice, or at a friend’s home where they can ask an adult that they are familiar with for help.
Keep detailed documentation of evidence supporting your concerns, including any proof you have that your ex is drinking around the kids. Make sure all your communications are in writing to show the judge that you have made an effort to come to a resolution without involving the court. When considering a change to your visitation schedule the courts prefer that the two parties work together first to see if they can come to an amicable agreement. Often attorneys can work together to find a solution instead of bringing the issue to court.
Can the Court Get Involved?
Substance abuse is a significant issue and qualifies as a reason to request a modification to the existing custody order. The courts can order child custody investigations, alcohol monitoring prior to and during a visit, that the party enroll in a treatment program or seek psychological counseling among other orders depending on the severity of the situation. The requesting spouse’s behavior and preparation during the waiting period are crucial to the success of the request. The burden of proof lies on the person asking for the modification.
If you are worrying about the safety of your kids, contact an attorney to change the child custody agreement. Buncher Family Law attorneys are skilled in guiding clients through the modification of custody or negotiating a revision to your parenting agreement. They have extensive experience in dealing with these complex situations and will provide supportive legal representation to fight for the best interests of your family.
Because nothing is more important than the wellbeing of your child.