Parents in Virginia generally have a right to spend time with their children and have a say in their development. Parents choose what schools their children attend and what medical care they receive. They are also responsible for providing supervision and guidance on a day-to-day basis for their kids.
When parents separate or divorce, they typically need to work out a parenting time schedule and also a way to divide the authority to make decisions about their children’s lives. Generally, the rights of parents exist regardless of their sex or the status of their relationship with their co-parent. Still, there are certain personal factors that can potentially have a negative impact on an individual’s parental rights during a custody matter.
A parent’s substance abuse may affect their rights
Especially when parents do not agree on how to share parenting time and other responsibilities for their family, judges will have to learn about family circumstances and then make a decision that would be in the best interests of the children. One of the personal factors that negatively affects someone’s ability to parent is substance abuse.
Intoxication sometimes leads to impulsive behavior, which might include physical or verbal abuse of the children. Even if someone is calm while intoxicated, they may end up unconscious and unable to provide for the children’s needs in an emergency. Family law judges should consider any factor that might influence the children’s safety and well-being, including the substance abuse of the parents.
Mere accusations levied against one parent by the other might not be enough for a judge to limit the other parent’s time with the children, but criminal charges supported by evidence, as well as a prior record of substance-related offenses, might lead to a judge questioning if one parent can meet the children’s needs.
Understanding the impact that drug and alcohol charges may have on custody matters can help both a parent with a criminal record who wants to protect their time with their children and a parent worried about the addiction of the other putting their children in harm’s way.