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How substance abuse can affect child custody

Pennsylvania parents who have ex-spouses with alcohol or drug dependences may have justifiable child custody concerns. While it is important that parents comply with court-mandated child custody scheduling and visitation, there are certain steps they can take to protect their kids from a parent suffering from substance abuse.

A parent's substance abuse may be addressed at a child custody hearing or when allegations regarding the abuse are reported to the state. The court will typically act if the substance abuse impacts how well the parent is able to care for their children or if the parent presents a threat to the well-being of the children.

If the issue is brought up at a child custody hearing, the court will initiate an investigation to determine if the claims are valid. If the allegations are found to be true, the court will then determine if the parent's substance abuse hinders their ability to take care of their children. As with all decisions the courts make regarding child custody, the best interests of the children is the guiding principle. When making a custody determination, the court may also consider any prior incidences of substance abuse.

In situations in which a custody arrangement is already in place and the courts have found that substance abuse allegations are true, the parent may have their contact with their children restricted. Supervision may be required during visitation times with the parent.

A family law attorney may advise clients in child custody disputes about their legal options. The attorney may suggest certain legal strategies involving litigation or negotiation to obtain favorable terms regarding visitation rights, custody scheduling or modifications to existing child custody arrangements.

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