Given the conflictual nature of the cases that present for custody evaluations, it is necessary that the assessment process separate false accusations from patterns of use or misuse and/or addiction.
Sometimes the court puts a little more “teeth” in its order by allowing the other parent to request random alcohol testing of the alcoholic parent.
However, so long as the court’s order allows the alcoholic parent to consume alcohol at some times (when the child is not around) but not consume it other times, this does not remove the credibility problems noted above: now the parents are simply fighting over when the alcoholic parent was drinking.
Since such determinations ride on credibility determinations, and since credibility determinations often require lots of witnesses and lots of cross-examination of these witnesses to test credibility, these hearings require substantial docket time and the court is often loath to devote substantial docket time to these issues–especially when the same issue (alcoholic parent’s drinking) keeps arising.
Frequently these cases do not resolve until the alcoholic parent’s drinking becomes well documented through an alcohol-related accident–and we can only hope that the children are not around when this accident occurs.
It strikes me that the solution to this problem is both simple and elegant and I wish more family court judges had the courage to implement it: simply require an alcoholic parent who wishes to have visitation with his or her child to stop drinking period.
I realize and respect that family court judges are loathe to restrict an adult’s legal activities more than is absolutely required.
Every situation is different and you must consider every factor when choosing an attorney that best fits your particular situation.
Fathers Helping Fathers is here to ensure that you know that you are important in your child’s life and that unless a judge tells you you cannot see your child you have a right to be in your child’s life and cannot be shut out of it. Absolutely, we have an ever-growing list of attorneys that we have a relationship with.
I have happily represented many outstanding recovering alcoholic parents in family court and some of these parents have obtained custody of their children and done a fantastic job raising them. The alcoholic parents whose representation I considered to be successful were in recovery and were committed to not drinking.
In too many cases I have observed alcoholic parents who were not in recovery destroy their custody case (and their relationship with their children) by continuing to drink.
Yet visitation orders that simply prohibit the alcoholic parent from drinking around the child (or when they have the child, or within twenty-four hours of a visit) simply continue this entanglement: the other parent must continuously monitor the alcoholic parent’s drinking.