Alcohol Testing in Child Custody Cases in Arizona
Child custody considerations can be lengthy and complex, especially if a couple is not separating on amicable terms. The Arizona court will attempt to establish what’s in the best interest of the child. Sometimes, spending little or no time with one parent at all will be the best choice.
If you’re facing a serious child custody battle, you may be wondering about the factors that could sway the court in one direction or the other. Alcohol consumption is obviously not a positive thing but is it going to have a pronounced effect on the awarding of custody?
Alcohol Consumption and Child Custody: An Overview
An occasional beer every now and then obviously isn’t going to affect the child custody decision. Problems like alcoholism or attempts on behalf of an ex to establish alcoholism, however, could contribute to serious court considerations about the safety and the wellbeing of a child.
Excessive alcohol consumption is described as harmful parental behavior.
A parent’s fitness to make decisions about the wellbeing and the future of the child isn’t presumed. Documented incidents of aggression, domestic violence, drinking excessively or taking drugs could make the court determine that the respective individual shouldn’t receive the decision-making responsibility about the future of the children.
In such instances, the other parent is tasked with establishing excessive alcohol consumption. The parent will have to establish clearly that the alcohol consumption of their ex will endanger children, hence child custody rights should not be granted.
Alcoholism and Substance Abuse in Arizona Family Law
A.R.S. 25-403.03 examines the issue of substance abuse in relationship to child custody.
If a court determines that a parent has abused any substance in the 12 month leading to the child custody proceedings, there will be the legal presumption that sole or joint custody is not going to be in the best interest of the child.
To override the presumption, the court will take in consideration the absence of convictions and drug-related offenses in the previous five years and results from a random drug/alcohol test from the previous six months. A random alcohol test should have been administered at a facility approved by the department of health services.
Establishing One’s Sobriety
Just because you’ve struggled with alcohol abuse in the past does not mean you should be denied child custody or the chance to spend quality time with your little ones.
If you’re going through a bitter divorce, your ex-spouse may work hard to prove you’re unfit to be a parent. In such instances, you will have to fight back. The first step would be to consult and hire an experienced Arizona family law attorney. Your lawyer will pinpoint the best strategies for establishing your sobriety in court.
The longer you have been sober (and monitored!), the stronger your case is going to be. Attending AA meetings and building a strong relationship with a sponsor is vital for those in recovery who are currently dealing with a child custody battle or who want to have their visitation rights modified.
Being involved in community activities and having a range of people vouch for you can also weaken the seriousness of arguments about your parental unfitness.
You also have the right to present evidence supporting your arguments. It will counter any evidence your former spouse may present about your alcohol abuse and unfitness to be a parent. It’s very important to adopt a comprehensive approach that relies on test results, testimonies and evidence to paint a picture of your recovery and progress.
Finally, do not get frustrated if some time is required to modify a child custody order. Work on your recovery and maintain the relationship with your lawyer. Every single step you make in the right direction will pay off and you will eventually get the child custody decision modified or reversed.
Click here for information on abandonment and termination of parental rights in Arizona.