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Dealing with substance abuse during custody disputes

Minnesota parents who are no longer with their former partner due to the ex's drug or alcohol abuse may worry about their child's well-being, especially if that person has some visitation rights. Because the court will take substance abuse into consideration, these types of allegations can make a custody dispute more complex.

Parents can bring up their substance abuse concerns during a child custody hearing. However, if they believe the child is in immediate danger due to their ex's substance abuse issues, they should report their concerns to the local child protective services agency. It should be noted that the court may only take action if it is believed that the ex's substance abuse hinders the ability to provide proper care for the child.

Courts deciding these matters use the best interest of the child standard. This standard takes a parent's general fitness into account, which includes the use of drugs and alcohol. If a court determines that the substance abuse claims are valid, it may modify the custody order so that the parent no longer has custody. It may also order supervised visits only depending on the parent's substance abuse. Regular visitation may only be restored once the parent can demonstrate that strides are being made in dealing with the problem.

Parents who lose custody of their child due to substance abuse allegations should contact a family law attorney. The attorney may protect the parent's visitation rights while they are in the process of overcoming their addictions. For example, the attorney may request that the court grant supervised visitations or short unsupervised visitations so that the parent can continue to maintain a strong and healthy relationship with the child.

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