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Substance Abuse

Texas law states that a person’s use of a controlled substance resulting in physical, mental, or emotional injury to a child is child abuse. A parent with reasonable cause to believe their child’s physical or psychological welfare has been adversely affected by any abuse by the other parent must immediately report it. They can report to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) or a local or state law enforcement agency.

The Woodlands high-conflict custody attorneys at BB Law Group PLLC have dedicated themselves to a mission of helping parents in challenging high-conflict custody cases. Our legal team has experience with custody cases involving substance abuse. We can help you learn more and do what is best for you and your children.

The high-conflict custody attorneys at BB Law Group PLLC will zealously advocate for you and your children in any high-conflict custody matter. Contact BB Law Group PLLC today at (832) 534-2589 to speak with a knowledgeable high-conflict custody attorney about your unique situation.

How Does Texas Decide Child Custody Issues?

substance abuse child The Texas Family Code uses the term “conservatorship” to refer to custody of a child. Texas also uses the term “access” in place of visitation rights.

When deciding the conservatorship of a child, Texas courts treat the child’s best interest as the primary consideration. Texas does not define the term “best interest of the child” but instead allows judges to determine its meaning and applicability based on the circumstances of each case.

Texas law operates on the presumption that parents sharing responsibility and raising them together through frequent and sustained contact is in a child’s best interest. To accomplish this, courts prefer shared custody arrangements known as joint managing conservatorships. Courts will only use a sole managing conservatorship, where one parent has exclusive decision-making responsibility when it is in the child’s best interests.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that parents have a fundamental right to make decisions about the care, custody, and control of their children. A joint managing conservatorship supports this fundamental right by allowing parents to share decision-making about most issues related to their children, including healthcare, education, and living environment.

Courts cannot interfere with these parental rights unless another person or party presents evidence showing a person is an unfit parent. The Texas Supreme Court has stated in rulings that the burden to prove that a parent is unfit is a challenging burden of proof to overcome for the other parent or a third party.

The Effect of a Parent’s Substance Abuse

A managing conservatorship is where a parent has the right to make major decisions about their child’s life, such as religion and schooling. Possessory conservatorship refers to whether the child resides with one or both parents.

In some situations, a court may grant a sole managing or possessory conservatorship to a parent because it is in the child’s best interests. This can happen when a child does not experience a safe, stable, nonviolent environment in the other parent’s presence. A parent may participate in abusive or neglectful behavior that causes a child to experience physical or emotional harm. This abuse or neglect may result from a parent’s substance abuse.

A parent’s current use of a controlled substance resulting in physical or emotional injury to a child constitutes abuse under Texas law. In these cases, a court may give a sole managing conservatorship to a parent.

Many adverse circumstances can arise from a parent’s substance abuse, including:

  • Misuse of time and money
  • The parent ignores the child
  • The parent is unable to respond to the child’s needs
  • The parent has difficulty controlling anger and other emotions
  • Physical impairment of the parent
  • Loss of attachment between parent and child

Texas law requires that if a co-parent has reasonable cause to believe that abuse has affected their child’s welfare, they must immediately report it to Texas authorities. If you fear your child is living in an unsafe environment, consult BB Law Group PLLC immediately. We can help you legally protect yourself and your child from further danger, risk, and uncertainty.

Proving a Parent’s Substance Abuse

Substance abuse neglectful parentsThe abuse of an illegal controlled substance such as cocaine or the misuse of a prescription opioid medication can cause a parent to put a child’s health and welfare at risk.

When one parent alleges substance abuse by the other parent, it can substantially affect a child custody decision and turn a divorce case into an unwanted, uncomfortable battleground. Alleging that a parent is unfit can cause a hostile, contentious reaction by the other parent.

Credible evidence of a history or pattern of past or present substance abuse by one parent can cause a court to give one parent sole conservatorship.

If the court finds abuse, it will likely name the non-abusive parent sole managing conservator because it is in the best interests of the child. It may condition the permanency of this sole management arrangement on the abusive parent seeking and receiving treatment.

When one parent receives sole custody, a crucial issue is whether the court will deny the abusive parent’s access or possession rights outright or grant these rights with restrictions, protections, or supervision. Since each case is unique, the details of a Texas court’s ruling in this scenario are hard to predict.

Relevant evidence of substance abuse includes:

  • Criminal records
  • Medical records and reports
  • Social welfare agencies reports
  • Eyewitness statements by a parent, relative, friend, neighbor, or social worker

The court may act on this evidence or order that the other parent submits to urinalysis and additional testing to find evidence of substance use.

Learn More from an Experienced High-Conflict Child Custody Attorney

The welfare of a child is at stake in any conservatorship decision. The Woodlands family law attorneys of BB Law Group PLLC understand your need to protect the best interests of your child, as well as the best interests of your entire family. Call an experienced high-conflict custody attorney in The Woodlands at (832) 534-2589 to schedule your consultation. Learn more about how the BB Law Group PLLC can help you with your high-conflict conservatorship matter.