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    Luck0rN0t's Avatar
    Luck0rN0t Posts: 263, Reputation: 45
    Full Member

    Jan 25, 2015, 07:41 PM
    Any guidelines for child custody in AZ when substance abuse has been involved
    In 2009 I was divorced and custody (both legal decision making as well as parenting time) was split 50/50. Our child was 2 years of age at the time.

    In 2013, Juvenile court was involved and one parent admitted to a substance abuse problem (alcohol). The court ordered sole legal custody and only minimal, supervised visitation and no transportation of the child.

    That parent has since attended relapse prevention classes, parenting classes, individual counseling, regular, voluntary 12-step meeting, 3x/week ETG testing for over a year, voluntary ignition interlock. The court has ordered the ETG testing to stop, due to no positive test results or indication of relapse and the removal of the interlock at the expiration of the lease, of 1 year. No other substance abuse issues have been involved.

    Visits are no longer supervised, overnights are allowed and the alcoholic parent is permitted to drive the minor child, by agreement of the two parents.

    It is now 1 1/2 years after this all began and parent with the drinking problem (who has 1 1/2 years sobriety) is now seeking to return to 50/50 custody. Both parties have hired attorneys, although alcoholic's attorney is no longer being an active participant in the case. I have sought consultations with multiple Family Law attorneys and none can agree on a good case plan, moving forward.

    I am wondering if there is anything else alcoholic parent can do at this point to demonstrate that they are not a danger to the child and return to 50/50 custody? All other behaviors have been that of a normal, responsible parent since the drinking stopped. Both parents have good jobs, homes, etc. The other parent and the court seem satisfied that alcoholic parent has found a recovery program that is working. Would a self paid hair alcohol test be of any use? Is it just a matter of time at this point?

    I realize that each case is different and no one can predict, but are there any standard timelines, assuming that 50/50 is in the best interest of the child (which both parents agree is the ultimate goal), to return, after a substance abuse issue has been raised and addressed, satisfactorily.
    cdad's Avatar
    cdad Posts: 12,688, Reputation: 1438
    Internet Research Expert

    Jan 25, 2015, 08:02 PM
    It sounds like when given a choice the parent stepped up to the plate and made the decision to choose the child over the bottle. And that alone deserves congratulations to them for reaching over that hurdle. With that said maybe some continued couseling is about all unless there are other signs of a relapse. Mostly its up to the parties to agree and then let the courts put the stamp of approval on it. It sounds best for both parent and child.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
    Computer Expert and Renaissance Man

    Jan 26, 2015, 05:41 AM
    It seems like things are progressing. But I doubt if there are any guidelines for a court to use. This is a judgment call. Personally, I think that 1 1/2 years is not quite enough time, but that would depend on prior history.

    If I were the alcoholic parent, I would wait a little longer, maybe another year before bringing this back to court.

    One major factor in this is the child is now of school age. This means the alcoholic parent would have to reside in the same school district for 50/50 to be practical.
    Luck0rN0t's Avatar
    Luck0rN0t Posts: 263, Reputation: 45
    Full Member

    Jan 26, 2015, 10:19 PM
    Thank you both, for the feedback. Both parents reside about 15 minutes apart, our child has attended the same school since Preschool, so that is not an issue. I guess it is time to retain a new attorney and see where the chips fall this time. Alcoholic parent also has a very mature teenage child who has remained in the home and the family is looking forward to things returning to a happy, healthy and supportive "normal" home, which it was, previously.

    Alcoholic has a very strong support network of non-drinkers, a mentor with 19 years sobriety and continues to attend AA regularly. I guess I will just keep doing the next right thing and hope for the best for all involved.

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