Proving Drug or Alcohol Abuse for Child Custody in Minnesota

When you’re in a custody battle, a child’s safety and welfare will always be the number one priority of the court. If a parent is proven to be abusing substances, this can result in the loss of custody. Let’s find out what you need to prove drug or alcohol abuse as you pursue custody of your child.

What Is Substance Abuse & How Can it Affect Custody?

Many confuse substance abuse with addiction, but they’re not the same thing. Both involve the use of alcohol, illegal drugs or legal drugs such as prescription medications. 

Substance abuse signifies that a person can willfully change their pattern of substance misuse. Often they’re using substances beyond their intended use or taking illegal substances. A person with an addiction, on the other hand, has a disease. People with addictions may or may not be abusing substances, so the presence of addiction alone is not necessarily an indication of substance abuse.

If substance abuse hinders a parent’s ability to care for a child’s physical, academic or social well-being, then that parent can lose custody. Some examples include a parent who decides to drive under the influence, fails to go to work or neglects their child due to substance abuse.

Evidence for Proving Substance Abuse

Every situation is different, so there’s no guaranteed formula for proving substance abuse. However, there are some common actions you can anticipate as you work through your custody case.

The first thing you should do is bring up the concern with your lawyer. They’ll help address your concerns about substance use and determine a way forward. They’ll also work to gather evidence and evaluate whether that evidence is admissible.

Evidence can be tricky to put together, especially if you’re new to legal proceedings. While you may think you have undeniable evidence of substance abuse, that may not be the case. This is why you need an experienced attorney’s counsel to help build your case.

Some types of evidence include:

  • Criminal charges: If a parent has criminal charges due to substance abuse, these may be considered in a custody case. Substance abuse charges can include driving while impaired, possession of illegal substances or drug manufacturing and sale. A court may not consider criminal charges important, depending on when they happened, whether counseling was sought after the offense and if there wasn’t more than a single charge.
  • Photos and videos: Single images of isolated incidents may not prove anything. However, it’s possible for the court to consider multiple images of substance abuse around children. Photos and videos can easily be taken out of context, so consult with your attorney about whether you can use them as evidence.
  • Drug tests: Drug tests can be requested by parents if they can produce adequate evidence to substantiate the request. Evidence that a court may accept for drug testing may include medical records, prior alcohol or drug-related convictions or testimonies of eyewitnesses.

Pursuing Child Custody? Contact the Attorneys at White & Associates

Child custody cases can be complex and wearisome. At White & Associates, our experienced attorneys can help you craft a custody arrangement that follows best interest standards. Schedule a consultation with us by calling 763-241-0477 or send us a message today.

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