Substance abuse evaluations may confirm drug use and recommend treatment, while supervised visitation protects children in cases of ongoing drug abuse.

As discussed in a previous blog, heroin and prescription opioid abuse is an escalating public health crisis that is sweeping across Georgia. As a result, more and more child custody cases involve drug use by one or more parents. This blog discusses additional steps that can be taken by the court to protect the children in these cases.

In some cases, the court requires the party accused of abusing drugs to submit to a substance abuse evaluation. This evaluation is conducted by a medical professional who determines whether the accused has a substance abuse problem, and recommends treatment if so. The court may then make such treatment part of the court order. Failure to comply may result in visitation being suspended or greatly restricted until the parent complies with the treatment.

For a parent with confirmed and recent drug use, the court may require that his or her visitation become supervised. Such visitation may be performed by a friend or family member, or a trained professional, depending upon the circumstances. In some cases, the visitation must occur at a supervised facility. Regardless of who is supervising the visit, he or she has the authority to immediately suspend the visitation if there is evidence that the visiting parent is intoxicated or impaired. Once a parent has demonstrated continued sobriety by successfully passing several random drug tests, they are generally entitled to longer supervised visits with the child/children. Continued sobriety will eventually result in short, unsupervised visitations that will typically increase in duration over time.

Drug abuse cases are not all the same. Parents must commit to treatment and maintain a drug-free lifestyle in order to spend time with their children. Failure to do so endangers the child’s life, making intervention by the court even more imperative.

If you suspect that the parent of your child or grandchild is using drugs, it is very important that you act to protect the child. It is also important that the law firm you hire has knowledge and experience in methods to protect children when their parent is struggling with addiction. If you have a need for a family law attorney with experience and knowledge in protecting children of parent’s struggling with addiction, please call The Millard Law Firm to schedule a consultation to discuss how we can help your family.