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Drug or alcohol abuse could impact child custody determinations

For Colorado spouses who've lived with a partner's addiction for many years, divorce can feel like a welcome breath of fresh air. For those who share children with their soon-to-be ex, however, it is important to understand that drug and alcohol addiction does not necessarily eliminate the other parent's child custody rights. This is a matter that courts approach on a case-by-case basis, so it's important to construct a solid legal argument to ensure a favorable outcome.

For example, the simple fact that one parent struggles with drug or alcohol addiction is not enough to prohibit that individual from spending time with his or her children. In order for child custody rights to be limited, there needs to be evidence that addiction places a child at risk of harm. A parent who has no history of abuse or neglect and is currently seeking addiction treatment is very likely to receive liberal child custody rights.

On the other hand, a parent who has been abusive or neglectful due to drug or alcohol addiction may face a steeper child custody challenge. If evidence of abuse or neglect is presented to a court, a parent with drug or alcohol problems may be forced to accept supervised custody, at least for certain period of time. Courts intentionally take a conservative approach in these cases, placing the best interests of the child above the interests of either parent.

Colorado child custody cases involving drug or alcohol addiction can be difficult.  No matter what side of the issue a parent is on, constructing a solid and well-documented legal argument is essential to a positive outcome. Working with a family law attorney can make it easier to navigate these types of child custody challenges.

Source:, "Mental Illness, Addiction, and Divorce: Know Your Rights", Stephen Bitsoli, Nov. 8, 2017

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