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How substance abuse can influence child custody cases

If a parent in Georgia has a substance abuse problem, it may impact how that parent is allowed to interact with a son or daughter. A court can look into complaints of substance abuse during a child custody hearing. At that time, a judge may choose to look further into the matter to determine if a parent's drug or alcohol use compromises the child's safety in any way.

Courts will also take a closer look at a parent's drug or alcohol use after a child custody order has been created. This could happen if a complaint is made to the court that issued the order or to the Department of Child Protective Services. Depending on what an investigation reveals, it may be possible for a noncustodial parent to be restricted to supervised visitation. This can last until a parent demonstrates to the court that he or she has taken steps to overcome a drug or alcohol problem.

One such step may include entering a rehab facility or seeking counseling to overcome issues with addiction. Those who are worried about their child's safety when around a noncustodial parent can choose to refuse visitation or seek a restraining order. Parents should collect evidence that a child could be in danger such as police reports from previous domestic violence or drunk driving incidents.

The law generally recognizes the importance of the parent-child relationship. Therefore, parents may be entitled to visitation with their children despite a current or previous dependence on alcohol or controlled substances. However, a parent's rights may be restricted if doing so is in the best interest of the child. An attorney may help individuals take steps to keep their children safe from noncustodial parents such as asking for supervised visitation or limiting contact to phone calls.

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