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Alcohol & Substance Abuse

Factors for Determining Child Custody

How does Alcohol or Drug Use Impact Child Custody Determinations?

One parent's decisions regarding his or her consumption of alcohol may potentially have a negative impact on that parent's chances of obtaining custody of his or her children. As mentioned in our other articles, Georgia courts look to several factors when determining child custody. These factors include a parent's decisions concerning alcohol consumption. Although a judge will not grant or deny the parent child custody based upon one factor alone, a parent's decisions concerning alcohol may have an impact on a court's willingness to grant him or her sole or primary child custody or even supervised or unsupervised visitation.

Georgia courts consider the "best interests of the child" or children involved with making custody determinations. When considering a child's best interests, the health and safety of the child is of paramount concern. Thus, if a parent's alcohol use or dependence threatens their child's health, safety or welfare; it is highly unlikely that a court will grant that parent custody. However, the more difficult question concerns alcohol use by a parent that does not amount to abuse or dependence.

If the parents are able to come to a consensus about other aspects of the divorce or custody dispute, they may enter into a settlement agreement which addresses the activities that each parent is prohibited from engaging in during parenting time or visitation with the children. If the parents are unable to come to a consensus, the determination will be made by the judge presiding over the case.

If the court determines that a parent's alcohol use keeps that parent from providing a stable home, interacting with the child or providing the child with a safe environment, the court may not grant that parent custody. Additionally, a court, in its final order or decree concerning custody may order that parents refrain from certain behavior, like possession or consumption of alcohol while in the presence of children. Also, if allegations of alcohol abuse are made by one parent against the other, a court may also order alcohol testing to determine what custodial arrangements may be the most appropriate. If you are currently seeking custody of your child and you have been accused of alcohol abuse, or if you suspect that your co-parent's alcohol consumption may negatively impact your children's welfare, contact the knowledgeable and experienced child custody attorneys at Meriwether & Tharp, LLC.

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