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Child visitation, custody and drug addiction: What to know

Drug addiction has become a national problem -- with no sign that the epidemic is slowing anytime soon. Adding to the increasingly bleak picture, parents who are caught in the cycle of drug addiction risk losing visitation, custody and -- ultimately -- their parental rights.

If you're a parent with an addiction, this is what you need to know:

1. Avoiding treatment to protect your custody or visitation rights is a foolish gamble.

If you have an addiction, you're probably not as good at hiding it as you think or hope. If you make a mistake and get caught, your chances of retaining custody of your children are virtually nil.

The best strategy is to voluntarily admit yourself to rehab after making arrangements for the care of your children in order to seek treatment. That way, you and your attorney can address allegations of substance abuse head-on, in a prepared manner.

The court is far more likely to take a lenient view of your situation if you're actively seeking help for your condition than if your condition is brought to its attention by your ex-spouse or child's other parent.

2. Demonstrate continued sobriety in order to regain your rights.

If it's already too late and the court has caught word of your addiction, you may have to do some serious work in order to gain back your visitation rights.

Expect to be limited to supervised visitation only -- at least at first. By demonstrating to the court that you're willing and capable to remain drug-free, you'll gradually regain the ability to have overnight visitation again with your children.

It's important to keep your eye on the long goals in this situation -- this won't be a quick process and it can be frustrating to think that your every move is being scrutinized by the court. Keep in mind that the court's primary concern is your children's safety -- so do your best to bear the demands gracefully.

For more information on how to handle the issue of addiction in an upcoming custody battle, talk to an attorney today.

Source: Livestrong, "Child Custody & Loss of Parental Rights From Drug Abuse," Mike Broemmel, July 15, 2017

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