What is Alcohol Monitoring?
Alcohol Monitoring is best described as using a tested device to observe, detect, and record the percent of alcohol in the bloodstream. It is a reliable and effective tool used to measure sobriety in Addiction Treatment, Workplace Compliance, and Family Law. The frequency of monitoring varies depending on individual circumstances and severity, but is usually more frequent during periods of greater relapse risk . Typically, the more progress someone makes, the more monitoring can be tapered over time.
How is Alcohol Monitoring Used in Family Law
Alcohol abuse is a common issue in many Family Law custody cases. Given the frequency of substance abuse, alcohol monitoring plays a pivotal role by encouraging and supporting accountability, promoting child safety, and simplifying litigation. Further, implementing effective alcohol evaluations and monitoring plans during a custody dispute helps strengthen child safety measures.
In the past, individuals had to go to specialized facilities to be tested for alcohol use. Thanks to new developments in technology, however, remote alcohol monitoring is a practical and reliable alternative that provides the tools needed to help ensure sobriety during parenting time. Remote alcohol monitoring tools, like Soberlink, help those struggling with alcohol abuse to document and share their sobriety. Another prominent feature, select systems are now able to provide real-time results, provides peace of mind to family members, the court, children, and anyone else involved in the case or listed on the Monitoring Agreement. In conjunction with providing reassurance and supporting accountability, remote monitoring tools can also promote client motivation. Parties can review progress and present court-admissible results at their convenience. If alcohol monitoring is only required during parenting time, clients can just as easily single out which days require their focus.
Why is Alcohol Monitoring Beneficial to Family Law
‘He-said-she-said’ arguments often plague Family Law cases where alcohol abuse is suspected or involved. Therefore, it is not surprising when Family Law Judges seek additional factual data to determine if a parent’s alcohol use is genuinely of concern. Besides being beneficial to the families affected, alcohol monitoring results are also essential to judges during custody rulings. Law professionals can access and review test records to make a sound judgment as it relates to custody provisions.
Benefit to the monitored parent: Alcohol monitoring allows the individual struggling with addiction to demonstrate sobriety to both the court and co-parent. For many, being monitored may help motivate parents to continue their sobriety during parenting time only or daily. Continuing to prove sobriety and demonstrate accountability can help clients be awarded more parenting time during litigation.
Benefit to the co-parent: Past and present alcohol abuse can give parents reason to doubt sobriety. Alcohol monitoring systems provide evidence that a parent is not impaired, can care for the child, and be responsible during parenting time. This helps alleviate safety concerns, trust issues, and overall anxiety for co- parents, often resulting in more trust and comfort during custody agreements.
Benefit to the child: If a child is aware of a parent’s excessive drinking, it can be reassuring to know that there are safeguards in place to protect them while under a co-parent’s supervision.
Best Interests of the Child Standard
Whenever a court makes a decision relating to a child, be it legal, custody, or parental visitation, they base their decision on the ‘Best Interests of the Child’ principle. ‘Best interests’ are determined by considering a variety of factors related to a family’s circumstances and capacity to parent. Ultimately, the child’s safety and well-being are the primary concern for law professionals. When discussing the best interests of the child, professionals are primarily concerned with managing their essential needs, and making sure children are growing and developing appropriately. The best interests of the child standard is subjective and determined on a case-by-case basis. The custody of parents who abuse alcohol are a factor when weighing the best interests of the child and how parental rights and time should be divided.
What is the Best Interest of the Child Standard
This term generally refers to the deliberation that courts undertake when deciding what types of services, actions, and orders will best serve a child following a divorce. Specifically, the principle states that custody and visitation decisions are made with the ultimate goal of fostering and encouraging the child’s happiness, security, mental health, and emotional development into young adulthood. Factors that are often considered include the parent’s ability to provide a safe home environment, the psychological and physical needs of the child, the mental and physical welfare of the parents, and the emotional ties and relationships between the child, parents, siblings, and family members.
How Does Alcohol Monitoring Support the Best Interests of the Child
Courts often agree that a child’s primary need is the active and responsible involvement of both parents in their life, even in cases of high parental conflict. In many situations, however, individuals struggling with alcohol abuse may only receive partial custody. If the parent can prove that they are taking steps to demonstrate sobriety, custody levels become more likely to increase. Remote alcohol monitoring devices such as Soberlink helps those dealing with addiction to document their sobriety, creating safer parenting environments as a result. Consistent monitoring can increase parenting time and allows for an equal balance between two parents. Many courts agree that a co-parenting solution is ideal and upholds the best interests of the child.
Why Real-Time Alcohol Monitoring Supports the Best Interests of the Child
Random lab testing was commonly ordered by courts to test an individual’s sobriety in the past. One significant issue with lab testing, however, is that it is not in real-time . Given the delay, no immediate action could be taken if alcohol use occurred during parenting time since the testing occurred prior to visitation. Using Soberlink can help make the child feel more comfortable as the device replaces the need for a supervised visit. Further, Soberlink allows alcohol monitoring to be discreet and convenient. Judges and family courts receive the testing data, enabling them to make custody and visitation decisions based on facts rather than assumptions. Most importantly, children can benefit from the stability and security that stem from consistent time with sober parents.
What is Real-Time Alcohol Monitoring
Remote alcohol monitoring produces instant results that are delivered in real-time to those listed on the Monitored Agreement. Soberlink has facial recognition technology, which helps eliminate suspicion regarding the identity or validity of test results. Additionally, Soberlink utilizes advanced tamper detection, which alerts recipients if test results are questionable. Monitoring is discreet and easy-to-use, making it possible for clients to test from anywhere, anytime. Soberlink automatically documents proof of sobriety in real-time, which gives clients a sense of accomplishment while rebuilding trust with loved ones.
Alcohol Monitoring Best Practices
Frequency: While some may believe an individual should be tested as much as possible, more than two to four tests a day can become a source of anxiety that negatively influences parenting time. Setting up a testing schedule is an excellent way to establish an accountability structure that will help keep the parent on track. The benefit of Soberlink’s technology is that it helps parents form healthy habits.
Missed Test: A missed test is a scheduled test that is not submitted within the agreed-upon timeframe. According to the expert panelists, a missed test should be dealt with using rational discussion rather than immediate consequences. The decision on how to handle a missed test should always be in the best interest of the child. Multiple missed tests , however, should be considered more serious, likely requiring a more significant response.
Positive Test Results: A positive test can be seen as an opportunity to reevaluate parenting provisions, request additional testing, or eliminate parenting time in the worst-case scenario. Leading with punishment rather than reevaluation is not a recommended tactic as it can create a hostile environment that is not in the best interests of the child. Instead, positive tests should lead to intensified care and monitoring.
How Does Soberlink Support Family Law Custody Cases
The loss of trust can be one of the most severe consequences of alcohol abuse, often imposing countless challenges to parental agreements in custody and alcohol cases. Whether parenting under the same roof or living in different households, using Soberlink Alcohol Monitoring to prove sobriety can help rebuild trust in families. Obtaining a growing record of sobriety also demonstrates accountability to the court and promotes positive co-parenting practices.
Soberlink is dedicated to helping its clients by educating them on system use, best practices, and by offering technical support whenever needed. Increasingly accepted for use in family courts given its reliability and accuracy, Soberlink has been a trusted tool published in peer-reviewed journals and White Papers. At times the system has also been found to be more accurate than EtG testing, with a higher testing compliance rate.
When weighing the best interests of the child in Family Law cases, courts consider factors that affect the child’s happiness, health, and safety. Given advancements in technology, parents struggling with alcohol abuse now have the tools to prove to the court, co-parent, and child that sobriety is a priority. Soberlink’s real-time results, poignant accuracy, and tamper detection continue to move the needle in professional monitoring, while helping families and law professionals uphold the best interests of a child.
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.