Custody in Utah and Drug Addictions

Parents with Substance Abuse Problems

Often we see divorce cases involving children in which one or both parents have substances abuse problems, whether it be cocaine, meth, alcohol or even marijuana.  Utah courts are very tough on parents who have drug issues.

If only one parent has a substance abuse problem it is typically a no brainer for the court to award temporary and even permanent custody to the parent who is not dealing with an addiction.  The parent with the addiction has to get clean before the court will even consider doing a shared custody arrangement.  Until that parent gets clean the court will generally order supervised visitation between the parent and child.  The court may also order that the parent take random drugs and alcohol tests which can include urine analyses and hair follicle exams.

Temporary Custody Orders and Drug Addictions

At the beginning of a divorce case the court will enter temporary orders regarding custody, which will govern until a final divorce decree is entered.  Court commissioners, without fail, will give temporary primary custody to the parent who does not have the drug addiction.  At that point the parent dealing with substance abuse problems has an important decision to make: is he going to get clean?  He has to if he wants to save his relationship with his children.

If supervised visitation is ordered the parent may have to see his child with a licensed supervising agency or if the court allows with a family member or friend.  Once the parent has established a consistent visitation schedule and a pattern of not having drugs or alcohol in his blood, the court will consider lifting the supervised visitation requirement.

Getting to the point of getting shared/joint custody is another matter and could take a custody evaluator to support your position, which can be very expensive and time consuming.

I you have any questions about custody in a Utah divorce, give us a call at 801.618.1331.

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