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  • Jul 13th, 2021

    Preparing for Child Custody in Extreme Situations (Drugs, Alcohol, or Abuse)

    Child Custody, Child Support

    How to prepare for a child custody case when there are extreme situations, such as drugs, alcohol, or abuse

    From my experience as a St. Louis divorce attorney, the only time in a contested matter where the Court will Order that someone shall be able to keep their child 100% of the time is if the other parent is a danger to the health and well-being of the child. 

    Missouri Courts believe that parents need to be in their children’s lives, and that is a high, but not impossible, burden to overcome.

    The sad fact is that a lot of the cases we litigate have something present that makes it so we have to try and severely limit a parent’s access to their children. 

    This is often a long, expensive, and stressful case that will put the non-offending client through the wringer. 

    Even after we have thrown everything we have at it, we do not always get the outcome we want. 

    Do not make the mistake of thinking what happens in Court is always fair. 

    Even if you get everything you ask for, most of the time, we are minimizing the loss rather than winning the case. 

    In those cases, a child has lost a parent, the “winner” is parenting by themselves, and often the kids will be dealing with the trauma long after they have become an adult. 

    They may grow up to resent the parent that was trying to protect them, even though the alternative would have been far worse.

    Steps to take in your child custody case if your spouse is abusive and addicted to drugs or alcohol

    If a parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they are not safe to be around the children unsupervised. 

    If a parent has a history of abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional), the are not safe to be around the children unsupervised. 

    Note that I have not said that they never get to see the child. 

    It only means that they need to be supervised in some manner if they are going to be around the children. 

    Talk with a child custody attorney about those options.

    Can an abusive or addicted parent lose rights to visiting or caring for a child?

    Only in the most extreme circumstances is all contact completely cut off. 

    These are sad scenarios and are few and far between. 

    I have been successful in stopping all visitation/contact, but usually only after someone has failed time and time again to provide a safe environment for the children, the abuse was extreme (example: sexual abuse of minor child) or if a parent continues to ignore Court Orders.  

    If you are the parent who is looking at a situation where you may not be able to be with your children unsupervised, my suggestion is that you get help. 

    There is no shame in rehab, treatment, or therapy. 

    The Court will recognize that you are trying to make a change, and while it may be a long road, you will most likely have a chance at getting your children back to seeing you at some point. 

    If the allegations against you are false, agree to whatever the Court asks you to do to prove that the other parent is lying.  This is not the time to be prideful and refuse to do what is asked of you.  These are serious allegations and the Court takes them seriously.  

    Related: How to calculate child support in Missouri

    There is almost always a path to redemption, that is, unless you sexually abused your child. 

    If you did that, my advice is to settle quickly and cheaply as possible. 

    Dragging this out is only going to cost you money, time, and hurt your children further. 

    Do not victimize your children again by dragging the matter out. 

    Get help and focus on whatever you need to do to ensure you never hurt a child again.  

    My significant other has harmed my child, what should I do?

    If you are the parent that has a significant other that has harmed your child or refuses to provide a safe environment, you need to have an aggressive, dedicated family law attorney fighting for you. 

    These cases are not easy, not quick, and require what is called a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), which is an attorney appointed by the Court (usually at a cost to the parties) to represent the best interest of the minor children.  

    If a GAL is appointed on your case, you will need to get in touch with them immediately, sign whatever releases are necessary for the GAL to have access to your children’s records, and (by and large) do what the GAL asks of you. 

    Judges do not like it when GAL’s have been denied access or reasonable requests denied, and the GAL’s recommendations to the Court go a very, very long way. 

    Do not give them a reason to dislike you.  Be respectful, pay them according to the Orders, and let your attorney do the fighting for you.  

    Find a child custody attorney to take on your case

    Contact the St. Louis child custody lawyers at Haefner Law Office at (314) 200-6101, and set up your free 30-minute phone consultation with a dedicated family law and divorce attorney in Saint Louis to discuss your case, get some guidance, and see if we are the right fit for you. 

    It may just be the most important call you ever make. 

    All we do at Haefner Law Office is family law, and we know how to protect you.  You do not need to do this alone.  

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