I’m A Recovered Addict, How Will This Affect Child Custody in My Divorce?

How does substance abuse and recovery affect child custody? Attorney Jeff Hughes discusses what you need to know on this topic.

Question Details:

I've had issues with substance abuse in the past. I've battled addiction for many years but I'm proud to say that I have finally been able to beat it. I've been clean for 2 years. My wife and I are about to get divorced and I'm worried that she may use my past addiction to suggest that I'm a bad father to our children. I love my kids and want to know if there's anything that I can do to make sure that I get a fair shake. Thanks.

Family Law Attorney Response:

Hi there. Thanks for the great question! First off, I'd like to say congratulations on being sober for 2 years! I think it's great that you've been able to put addiction behind you.

Second, I'm sorry that you and your family are going through a divorce. We know how difficult divorce can be, especially if children are involved. Do your best to stay strong and make sure you have a support system. Friends and family are there to help and support you in times of need and be a shoulder to lean on. Don't forget that.

Now to your answer your question – Remember that in the state of Wisconsin – the deciding factor in child custody cases is whatever is in the best interests of the children. If you were still an addict or just recently started receiving treatment, the judge would almost certainly not give you custody of your children. Also, visitation would most likely be restricted – in time and in that you and your kids would be supervised.

But, in your case, since you've been recovering for 2 years, the judge may treat you like any other parent and could consider what the children have to say about you as a father as well. If you're afraid that your spouse will bring up your past addiction and use it against you – your best defense against this will be to be prepared. Get documentation. If you can get something from your rehab facility or counselors there that were a part of your recovery, get it. Have friends and family that have been a part of your life for a long time- those that have seen you at your worst and your best – sign statements attesting to how well you are doing. You want to do everything in your power to prove that you're healthy and fit to take care of your children.

Thanks again for visiting and let us know if you need family law help. Good luck! 

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