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Substance abuse and child custody orders

Virginia divorced parents who have worries about the welfare of their children while they are in the care of the other parent who has substance abuse problems may have legal remedies. They should know how they can protect their children without violating a current child custody order and at what point family courts can become involved.

The courts will usually address a parent's substance abuse during hearings to determine child custody. Allegations of substance abuse will also be addressed if complaints are submitted to the court that generated the child custody order or to a child protective services agency.

Action will be taken if a parent's ability to take care of his or her children is negatively impacted by substance abuse or if the parent presents a risk to the children's well-being. Allegations that are submitted during a child custody hearing will most likely result in an investigation. When determining child custody, courts consider what is in the best interest of the child as the deciding factor. This standard requires the assessment of the general fitness of both parents as well as any history of substance abuse.

If there is already a child custody order in place when allegations of abuse are raised, the court may opt to limit a parent's contact with the children by modifying it. Non-custodial parents may be required to have only supervised visits with their children in order to ensure the children are in a controlled and safe environment.

An attorney can often assist a parent with this type of family law issue. The attorney can outline the procedures for requesting an order modification, prepare the required paperwork and then advocate on the client's behalf at the hearing.

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