How Can Alcohol Abuse Affect Chances of Custody in Divorce?

Single dad with kids
July 30, 2020
|   updated:
July 9, 2023

A common issue that arises during child custody litigation is that one or both parents may be unfit to parent due to alcohol abuse. People may assume that alcohol abuse claims immediately disqualify a parent from receiving full or partial custody. While alcohol abuse may, in severe cases, lead to this outcome, it is not necessarily the intention of the judge to permanently separate families due to substance abuse.

How Is Child Custody Determined in Court?

55,000 Child custody cases involve a parent who abuses alcohol

Understanding how child custody is determined in court is key to unlocking alcohol abuse’s effects on litigation. A judge will base their decision on the child’s best interests, putting the child’s health, safety, and welfare before any other considerations.

How Judges Uphold the ‘Best Interests of the Child’ Standard

There are a few ways to understand how a child’s health, safety, and well-being are analyzed in court. Some of the things a judge will look for include:

  • In the Parent: Poor judgment, slowed motor functions, and increased aggression
  • In the Child: Emotional and psychological health of a child such as overcompensating for their parent by taking on parental responsibilities

It is worth noting that children benefit from frequent and continued contact with both parents whenever possible. Most Family Courts believe children need a sense of stability to maintain a healthy psyche. Thus, a judge will always try to consider granting joint custody unless a parent is providing a dangerous environment.

How Judges Review Court-Admissible Evidence

Judges rule based on court-admissible evidence. In custody cases involving alcohol, a parent who is accused of abuse must prove that they are providing a safe environment for the child. On the other hand, a parent concerned about a co-parent’s abuse needs to prove the opposite. Hearsay, or he-said-she-said situations, do not count as admissible evidence.

How Alcohol Abuse Impacts Child Custody Outcomes and How Remote Alcohol Monitoring Can Help

Dad with kids on bench

A parent who finds themselves in a child custody case involving alcohol may find that they are impacted by limited parenting time, trust-related issues, and complicated litigation. Fortunately, there is technology available to help.

Supported by thousands of Family Law Professionals and their clients, the alcohol monitoring system, Soberlink, offers an FDA-cleared, remote breathalyzer that documents sobriety in real-time.

Limited Parenting Time and Inconvenient Monitoring

To ensure child safety, a judge may grant parenting time to a parent with alcohol abuse as long as the individual is effectively monitored. For some, this may mean supervised visitation resulting in a parent being accompanied by a third-party during parenting time.

Designed with flexibility in mind, Soberlink’s alcohol monitoring tools are designed to fit into any schedule. Users can submit tests at home, with their results sent to all listed Concerned Parties in real-time. With Soberlink, parents no longer have to adhere to sample requests from testing labs or third-party supervised visit provisions. Instead, parents can make better use of their time, devoting additional focus to their child.

Impacted Trust Amongst Co-Parents

A parent struggling with alcohol abuse AUD may feel that regaining trust from their ex-spouse is impossible.

However, Soberlink makes it possible to prove sobriety and provide peace of mind to the other parent. The pocket-sized device comes equipped with facial recognition technology and tamper-detection software to ensure the integrity of each test.

Complicated Litigation as a Result of Potential Hearsay

Alcohol abuse claims can also impact litigation. With hearsay, cases are often prolonged due to a lack of court-admissible evidence.

Soberlink is designed to provide court-admissible evidence of alcohol use, it can streamline both litigation and those costs associated with it, down. For co-parents navigating divorce, the system allows them to spend the remainder of that time supporting their children and focusing on their needs.

A smiling mother with her daughter on her back

While no two situations are alike, alcohol monitoring seeks to benefit the family as a whole. Keeping the focus on the child’s best interests, systems like Soberlink provide children the ability to foster relationships with both parents, even when allegations of alcohol abuse are present. For those experiencing false allegations or who would like to sustain custody of their children despite addiction, alcohol monitoring provides a useful alternative to lengthened litigation and familial hostility.

Learn More About Soberlink

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.