When alcohol use is a factor in a child custody case, practitioners often look for solutions that will enable a child to maintain healthy, loving relationships with both parents. Whether your client is the one making or facing allegations of alcohol use, or you are a judge determining custody, using remote alcohol monitoring to support your case might help.
Soberlink remote alcohol monitoring technology is a comprehensive system that can benefit both parents while upholding the best interests of the child. Combining facial recognition, tamper detection, and real-time results, Soberlink offers peace of mind to concerned parties and helps ensure children are with a sober parent. For the parent struggling with alcohol use, scheduled testing can help individuals document their sobriety and prove to the court and their co-parent that the children are safe, and their needs are being met.
How Alleged Alcohol Abuse Affects Custody
In traditional custody litigation, co-parents have the option to negotiate a parenting plan. However, not all parents can put aside their differences to agree on an arrangement in their children’s best interests, particularly when alcohol use or other mental health issues are at play. In these situations, it’s up to the judge to determine a custody agreement that ensures a child’s basic emotional and physical needs are being met.
If one parent alleges the other abuses alcohol, this can influence the judge’s decision. The judge may become concerned about the other parent’s ability to offer adequate childcare.
The judge must review the evidence regarding whether the parent’s alcohol use has affected the child recently or in the past. Is the parent able to keep a clean and safe home, provide meals, monitor the child’s school attendance and homework, and manage any medical or special needs? Is the child emotionally and physically safe with the parent?
The National Institutes of Health estimates 5.8 percent of adults in the U.S. had alcohol use disorder in 2018, which amounts to 9.2 million men and 5.3 million women. This mental health condition is not uncommon, and it is an issue that could become more significant during the COVID-19 pandemic. Judges are sympathetic — they know that struggling with alcohol abuse doesn’t necessarily make people bad parents. The law, however, requires judges to determine custody in the child’s best interests.
Family Law Attorneys can use alcohol monitoring to submit court-admissible evidence detailing the accused parent’s sobriety during a custody case. Obtaining concrete evidence can help judges make informed decisions. For judges newly acquainted with alcohol monitoring, Soberlink and The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) created an AUD Bench Card to guide judges in making safe, fair, and effective decisions for alcohol misuse in child custody cases.
Proving Sobriety in Family Court
Navigating the intersection of child custody and alcohol use is challenging for both sides. The parent who raises the issue is naturally concerned about whether the other parent can provide a safe, stable, and loving environment. The parent accused of alcohol use wants to prove they can care for their children and maintain parental rights.
Prior to alcohol monitoring, Family Court cases were often plagued by hearsay. Hearsay is a statement someone makes outside of court, and a party offers it into evidence to prove the claim.
A parent needs more than their word to prove their sobriety and ability to parent. They can’t simply testify that they don’t drink around the children or tested clean at home. Thankfully, there are various ways to document sobriety.
It matters which alcohol monitoring system a parent chooses. Store-bought breathalyzers typically lack security for child custody litigation, as they can be easily tampered with or used by someone other than the Monitored Client. Further, lab tests don’t offer real-time results and are inconvenient, non-discreet, and unideal during a pandemic, when it’s safest to stay at home. Designed with ease-of-use in mind, alcohol monitoring tools such as Soberlink offer some autonomy to the person testing, allowing them to submit tests using a wireless connection. With countless state-of-the-art features, remote alcohol monitoring technology enables clients to maintain relationships with their children, while establishing new healthy routines.
How Soberlink Remote Alcohol Monitoring Can Help
Thousands of Family Law Professionals around the country use Soberlink to streamline litigation and ensure safer co-parenting arrangements for their clients and the children involved.
1. Facial Recognition
For a judge to accept test results as evidence, they need to be confident the results are accurate and reliable. Considering Soberlink’s adaptive facial recognition technology, which adapts to subtle changes in appearance over time, judges can rest assured identity has been confirmed with each submission.
2. Tamper Detection
One of the reasons Soberlink results are court-admissible is because they can’t be influenced by altering the device. Both devices have internal sensors that detect any tampering or inconsistencies in the breath. If tampering is detected, the incident will be sent for review by a Support Team Representative.
3. Real-Time Results
After each test, the Monitored Client’s results get sent in real-time to those listed on the Monitoring Agreement. Immediate results can not only help rebuild trust between parents but allows for swift intervention in the event of a relapse or slip.
4. Comprehensive Reports
When parents want to use remote alcohol monitoring results as evidence, they need an efficient way to report test results. Soberlink Advanced Reporting® equips practitioners with easy-to-digest reports that follow a universal color-code. Beside each time-stamped test result sits a red, yellow, or green dot indicating a Non-compliant, Missed, or Compliant test. These reports can be viewed daily, weekly, or monthly, offering a court-admissible progress report.
Soberlink works for most child custody cases because it is designed for ease-of-use. Parents are advised to complete a detailed Monitoring Agreement regarding when and how often a parent will test and which parties should receive a notification.
Monitoring Sobriety During the Pandemic
The pandemic has changed how many people go about their day-to-day lives. Many families are reducing non-essential contact with others, social distancing, and wearing masks. Some parents are working from home, supervising virtual schooling, or are choosing to homeschool.
Given the world’s current affairs, most parents’ main concern is keeping their children safe, which means limiting their time out of the house. If something can be done remotely, it should. Soberlink offers a fully remote testing experience that provides parents more time with their children that would have otherwise been spent outside the home at a testing lab.
Soberlink Provides Evidence Parents and Judges Require
Family Law Judges will always take allegations of alcohol use seriously because it can significantly impact a child’s well-being. A single decade ago, judges had to rely on hearsay and inconclusive lab-testing to determine alcohol abuse. Now, parents can utilize remote technology to provide court-admissible documentation of sobriety. Thanks to advancements in technology, systems like Soberlink can ensure safer co-parenting arrangements for children wishing to maintain a relationship with both of their parents, regardless of one’s addiction struggles.
About the Author
Soberlink supports accountability for sobriety through a comprehensive alcohol monitoring system. Combining a breathalyzer with wireless connectivity, the portable design and technology includes facial recognition, tamper detection and real-time reporting. Soberlink proves sobriety with reliability to foster trust and peace of mind.