Are You Dealing with Substance Abuse
In Your Colorado Domestic Relations Case?
Substance abuse is rarely an issue in a Colorado family law matters unless there are minor children involved. But when the allocation of parental responsibilities and decision making is on the table in a domestic relations issue, and one of the parents has a substance abuse problem, then it becomes a serious and significant issue.
The Best Interests of the Child
Courts generally respond to a parent’s alleged substance abuse issue during an initial hearing about parenting time. When there is evidence to suggest that a parent’s substance abuse is hindering their ability to care for the children involved, the court will investigate the matter to determine whether the allegations are true. If it is determined that the parent’s substance abuse is negatively impacting their ability to properly care for the children, then the court will seek to rule under the best interests of the child statute.
How Courts Handle Substance Abuse
If a parent with young children is abusing drugs and/or alcohol, the family law court will often order the substance abusing parents to undergo an assessment with a qualified mental health professional. The court will also require the parent to comply with the recommendations associated with the evaluation and ask for assurances of the rehabilitative progress via testing such as urinalysis or hair follicle tests.
The Impact of Substance Abuse on Parental Responsibilities
When a parent with young children struggles with substance abuse issues, it is not unusual for the court to restrict their parenting time. The court may order that the parenting time be supervised with a licensed mental health professional; or that their parenting time may be limited until the parent can demonstrate a consistent pattern of abstinence or temperance and/or is making progress towards moderation.
Compliance, Progress, and Rehabilitation
If the substance abusing parent can demonstrate their ability to move forward, the Colorado court will frequently allow them to “earn back” their parental rights. The court will often begin the process in a series of steps:
1. Remove supervised parenting time.
2. Provide for more frequent parenting time
3. Introduce overnight visits.
Getting the Help You Need
When ruling on parenting time matters, the Colorado courts consider drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse very serious issues. If you are dealing with issues regarding substance abuse and/or addictive behaviors, and there are children involved, we encourage you to seek assistance of a mental health professional.
The Bercovitz Law Firm
Elissa Bercovitz has experience with domestic relations matters related to the dissolution of marriage (divorce), legal separation, the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities (parenting time, custody, and child support), maintenance (spousal support/ alimony), paternity, step-parent adoption, relocation cases, the division of assets and debt, LGBTQ family law matters, post-decree modifications, and guardianship. Elissa also handles mediation for family law cases.
Call Elissa Bercovitz at the Bercovitz Law Firm at (303) 803-1678