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What can I do about an ex's substance abuse?

Whether it's related to drugs or alcohol, substance abuse is an issue that impacts the entire family. This is especially true when ex-spouses share custody, in which case their child could be at risk when spending time at the parent's house who uses drugs or alcohol. Very Well Family explains how to deal with this issue so your child remains protected. 

Because custody is court-ordered, any issues with substance abuse must be addressed to the judge responsible for making the initial decree. This is the case when the substance abuse issue arises after the original court order has been made. If you're aware of the issue going into the custody hearing, they should be addressed at that point. All decisions are made with the best interests of the child in mind, and substance abuse could be a significant factor when the judge is deciding on the custody arrangement.

Of course, you still have options when the decision has already been made. Along with contacting the court, you may also request an order of protection or restraining order. This can be helpful when you share custody with your ex and have serious concerns about your child's safety. While it's generally not recommended, you may also withhold visits from your ex until the matter is rectified. If you choose to do so, make sure you speak with your lawyer about the process to mitigate any legal fallout that could affect you.

Once your concerns have been expressed to the court, the judge will investigate the matter to determine whether your former spouse is fit to care for your child. At this point, you can submit evidence like police records or criminal charges relating to the substance abuse allegation. The judge may alter the original custody order until which time your ex has shown that he or she has taken care of the substance abuse problem. 

The above is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have questions, consult an attorney to get a perspective on your legal options. 

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