Every child deserves a safe and nurturing environment. While most people would echo this philosophy, exercising this in child custody and alcohol cases can be a steep battle. Add a global pandemic, a tumultuous co-parenting relationship, and false-positive results to the equation, and what constitutes “in the best interest of the child” becomes far less defined.
“You have to be very sensitive when addiction dynamics are present,” says Dr. Stephanie Tabashneck, a psychologist and attorney specializing in child custody evaluations, substance use issues, forensic evaluations, and expert testimony. “There are often a lot of things going on in these cases, and they can be really complicated.”
Improve Accountability During the Pandemic
Dr. Tabashneck has two objectives when assessing each child custody case. The first is to determine the potential risks to the child’s wellness. For example, the absence of a parent to whom a three-year-old has formed an attachment might negatively impact the child’s emotional wellbeing. You must identify to what extent alcohol misuse affects parenting, if at all, she says. Her second objective when evaluating cases is to mitigate those risks.
The global pandemic triggered a rise in alcohol consumption, and consequently, alcohol abuse. Nearly 25% of adults reported drinking more alcohol to manage their stress levels. For the past year and a half, children previously tucked away in classrooms were subjected to long hours at home due to COVID-19. This became problematic for those with a parent with severe alcohol addiction. Children no longer had the safety net of being in a school environment for most of their day to shield themselves from possible harm.
As families continue to navigate the disruptions in work, school, and, more importantly, home life, a remote breathalyzer for alcohol monitoring such as Soberlink can be a great tool to foster accountability and peace of mind so children are protected.
Repair Family Dynamics for Happier Children
In child custody cases, Family Court tends to focus primarily on a parent’s alcohol addiction. However, Dr. Tabashneck advises that consideration also be given to the co-parent’s level of cooperativeness. She has found that children are safer when there is a healthy co-parenting relationship. Talking negatively about the other parent to the child or failure to show support can adversely affect the family dynamics and, in turn, the child’s emotional development.
The parent who suffers from alcohol misuse often feels shame, while the other parent may distrust their former partner due to past behavior. As a result, this can hinder communication between both parents. Dr. Tabashneck cites electronic breathalyzing monitoring as a way to increase transparency between both parties, which is necessary to rebuild trust and establish effective communication.
Reduce Error with Reliable Data in Family Court
Dr. Tabashneck cautions that there is an ongoing issue in the Family Court system with inaccurate results.
“I think alcohol testing can be used as a punishing mechanism where if there is a positive test result, then all of a sudden it’s like the parents fail, they’re losing their kids, and that’s really toxic,” she says.
To prevent false-positive readings obtaining reliable data is crucial. There were a few cases, she adds, where it was improbable that the parent had a relapse. Facial recognition and ease-of-use are helpful as are tamper detection to ensure accurate results.
Soberlink remote alcohol monitoring technology’s unique Advanced Reporting feature provides Family Law Practitioners with daily, weekly, or monthly client snapshots to help them establish patterns, making it a vital tool in child custody and alcohol abuse cases nationwide.