Problems with alcohol and/or other substances by one or both spouses contribute to the end of many marriages. If your substance abuse was a factor in your divorce, your co-parent may have received sole or primary possession (also known as custody) of your child. You may have only limited access to your child, and that access may require supervision.
Perhaps a lot has changed since your divorce. You’ve been sober for a time and you’re “working the program,” as they say. You may have spent some time in a rehabilitation facility or simply quit drinking and/or using. Maybe you’re in therapy, AA and/or NA.
What do you need to demonstrate to a judge?
Understandably, you’re anxious to get more access to your child. You’re not the same person – or the same parent – you were when you divorced or separated from your child’s other parent. So how do you go about achieving this goal?
It’s crucial to understand that judges don’t just see a one-year sobriety chip and revise a custody order on the spot. They have to be convinced that greater parenting time is in your child’s best interests. So does your co-parent, but ultimately, it’s the judge who has to change the order.
Every case is different, but typically a parent who has had a serious problem with alcohol and/or other substances needs to demonstrate and provide evidence of the following:
- They have been sober for some time
- They’re not a danger to their child’s physical or emotional well-being
- They are in some kind of recovery program
There’s no set timetable for when parents can gain greater access to their children. However, you can’t expect to walk out of a 90-day rehab stint and get full access to your child. It will likely be months or even longer, and the process will likely be gradual. You may be required to agree to some kind of alcohol monitoring to prove your continued sobriety.
Your best first step is to get sound legal guidance. This can help you know what to expect and how best to present your case for becoming a more significant presence in your child’s life.