When addiction collides with child custody negotiations, it’s important to be both realistic and compassionate. People navigating divorces in Washington must also understand that governing laws always prioritize the children’s well-being.
Drafting an addiction-aware custody agreement
About 21 million Americans are beset with substance abuse challenges, and for those who are parents, addiction may limit the amount of time they can spend with their children. Custody agreements can include parameters based on the level of addiction. In dire situations, custodial parents can deny visitation rights and all access to a child.
Under such circumstances, the lawyer drafting the terms usually includes a codicil that outlines a redemption path that will allow the addicted parent to regain certain rights. For example, the addicted parent may be required to successfully complete rehab and hold a steady job for a certain amount of time before being granted visitation.
Supervised visitation is one option for divorced parents dealing with addiction issues. The party chosen to observe meetings can be a trusted family member, responsible friend or appointed social worker.
Leaving room for improvement
Addiction doesn’t need to be a permanent condition. People can conquer their addictions and go on to lead productive lives rooted in responsible habits. When someone does the work and turns their life around, it may be appropriate to transition into a more equitable custody agreement.
In such situations, a family law attorney may assess the situation and help develop a solution tailored to the family’s needs. Lawyers who’ve helped other people negotiate difficult circumstances may have the requisite sensitivity and skills to arrive at the best possible outcome for all involved.