Divorce and custody disputes are traumatic no matter what. Even the most amicable of relationships can be fraught with frustration and a period of adjustment that can affect the family. Adding a party who struggles with alcoholism only exacerbates the problem. Sometimes, what is worse is having one parent accuse the other of alcohol abuse without cause. These allegations can make it very difficult for parents to work together and trust each other in raising their children. Using alcohol monitoring systems in a parenting plan can cut down on the acrimony and allegations, leading to a more peaceful resolution – something that is always in the best interest of the children. Here are five reasons you should consider including alcohol monitoring in your parenting plan.
If a party – say the husband – struggles with alcohol abuse, then his wife likely has difficulty trusting him. By implementing a custody and possession order that requires alcohol testing of the husband during parenting time, the wife can feel more confident and secure that he is sober and able to make good decisions regarding their children. Incorporating alcohol monitoring means that each party is being held accountable, and they both understand what the expectations for possession and custody of the children are. When everyone starts out on the same page with the goal to trust each other, it reduces conflict and sets the tone for the rest of the family law matter.
Sometimes, addicts have to wait until they hit rock bottom to start reconciling with their addictions. However, in family law cases, the alcohol abuser gets the opportunity to have alcohol monitoring without the other negatives associated with it – like probation or a conviction for a crime. Incorporating alcohol monitoring into a parenting plan motivates someone who is addicted to alcohol in two ways: first, they know that their ability to see their child is contingent upon them staying sober for a certain period of time. Usually, this is a manageable goal that they can meet, which in turn builds their confidence and helps them stay sober. Second, they know that if they are unable to stay sober, not only can they not see their child that day, but it would negatively affect their overall family law matter – perhaps meaning they lose certain rights to their children they were previously awarded (like visitation or parenting time).
In many cases, either party might become frustrated during their family law litigation. Unfounded accusations of alcohol abuse by one party are difficult for the other party to disprove. Other times, there might be frustration with the inability to show that another parent has serious issues with alcohol that need to be addressed in the best interest of the children. By incorporating alcohol monitoring into a parenting plan, it affords the opportunity to obtain objective, verifiable proof that a parent either does or does not struggle with alcohol abuse. Cases that do not take advantage of alcohol monitoring have to rely on testimony from witnesses, which can be biased or incorrect. By using a system which is not swayed by a party’s gender, family relationships or history, the parties are able to see whether or not their suspicions are true. This enables them to craft future agreements using the facts, rather than feelings.
Most modern alcohol monitoring systems are easy to use and reliable. When the results can be trusted, that means it often serves as an incentive for clients to come to an agreement and implement a consistent program without having to go to court. The party struggling with alcohol addiction is now motivated to stay sober, knowing that the stakes are high and they will be monitored closely. The other party in question will have peace of mind when dropping off their children, knowing the other spouse is sober and working towards recovery. The parties can begin to trust each other and learn to co-parent more effectively. Ultimately, the implication is the parties begin working together to raise their children; which means they are saving legal fees and time, and can begin healing as a family unit sooner rather than later.
Family courts and family law attorneys are recognizing the value of implementing alcohol monitoring and are incorporating them more frequently into their cases. If a parent cannot pass an alcohol test prior to or during their scheduled time with the children, then the children will be removed and placed in a safer environment. They will not be expected to babysit their own parent or be subject to the potential bad decisions a parent under the influence will make. Ultimately, both parents want their children to be happy, healthy and safe. Alcohol monitoring helps remove doubt about achieving this goal.
Working towards sobriety is difficult on its own. Going through a divorce or parenting dispute can sometimes make things worse. If alcohol abuse is a concern regarding the custody of your or a loved one’s children, consider using Soberlink– a reliable and accurate solution to parenting plan disputes.
Danielle Prado, an experienced family lawyer licensed in Texas, England, and Wales.
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