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Making your case for more parenting time after getting sober

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | FAMILY LAW - Child Custody

If your alcohol and/or drug abuse issues contributed to the end of your marriage, you’re not alone. Substance abuse is one of the leading causes of divorce. It’s also one of the main reasons why parents lose custody of their children in divorce and may have only limited visitation rights (often with supervision required).

If the upside of that was that you finally went into recovery and got sober, you’re no doubt anxious to gain more parenting rights. While you may feel ready, you still have to convince others.

Your co-parent may be the most difficult person to convince – especially if they knew you far longer as an alcoholic or addict than they have as a sober person. However, their agreement to increase your rights isn’t enough. You’ll still need to make your case to a judge and possibly a child services professional.

Parenting rights are generally increased very gradually – and that may not even begin until you’ve had many months or longer of proven sobriety. How long it takes to gain shared custody or even unsupervised visitation will depend in part on how much your addiction affected your child and if you ever endangered them.

Depending on your child’s age, a judge may want to talk to them to see how they feel about spending time with you again. They won’t put a child in a situation where they feel afraid or uncomfortable. You may have some fences to mend.

How do you make your case?

As noted, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve been living a sober life and continuing in a recovery or 12-step program as well as possibly seeing a therapist. You’ll likely need to have one or more people, including your sponsor, your therapist and others testify on your behalf. 

You may need to agree to random or regular alcohol or drug testing. Often, courts will order parents to undergo testing while their child is with them or even on days when they don’t have their child.

Likely, your lifestyle has changed drastically since you went into recovery. You’ll need to show that you’re not socializing with the same people you drank or used with. You’ll also have to prove that your home is a safe place for your child.

That “one day at a time” mantra will come in handy as you move towards co-parenting. A good first step is getting experienced legal guidance.