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The impact of parental substance abuse on custody proceedings

A Pennsylvania parent facing a custody battle might wonder about how a past history of illegal drug use, domestic violence or other negative behavior will affect the outcome. News of the breakup of Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick brings such interests into the limelight as the celebrity couple will deal with custody issues involving their own three children. The father has recently gotten out of a drug rehab, which might have some influence on the formal custody decisions. However, additional issues such as the current primary caretaker, Kardashian, and the wishes of both parents could be important as the final decision is rendered.

For those whose child custody cases are not in the national limelight, issues of past history, the wishes of the parents and the current care situation may similarly be considered. Although a pattern of drug use might be presumed by some to limit the rights of the parent who has that history, judges tend to make the best interest of a child the biggest priority. An unfit parent might lose all custody rights, but in other cases, legal custody might be shared. This allows both parents to influence the education, medical care and other important aspects of a child's life.

If drug use is a recent problem for a parent, limitations such as supervised visitation might be imposed during a custody hearing. If the issue is farther in the past, it may not play a significant role in the decision rendered by a judge.

As a parent approaches a custody dispute, it may be beneficial to bring up the other parent's negative history if there appears to be a realistic expectation that the behavior will continue, especially if a danger could be posed to a child. A lawyer might help in supporting such a concern by including statements or records from medical or counseling professionals in the evidence presented to a judge.

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