Drug Use and Child Custody: An Inadvisable Mix

Drug use can have very negative consequences on a parent‘s child custody and time-sharing. In case of the use of illegal drugs or the abuse of prescription medications, the New Mexico Courts will err on the side of protecting the child.

This means there is very little sympathy or latitude for parents that use illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs. It is safe to assume that there will be zero tolerance of this behavior while caring for the child.

Risks to the Child‘s Health and Safety

There are many risks to the child associated with illegal drugs or the abuse of prescription drugs. These range from basic care of the child in the home to driving under the influence of drugs.

Driving under the influence is an easy call since this clearly jeopardizes the safety of the child. Care of the child while under the influence of illegal drugs is likewise an easy decision. The use of prescription drugs might involve a more difficult evaluation but again, the Courts will err on the side of caution.

The message is simple. Do not use illegal drugs, abuse prescription drugs, or drive under the influence of drugs that will impair your ability to drive. Any risks to the safety or health of the child will not be tolerated by the New Mexico courts.

Bests Interests of Child

When judges are deciding who will have custody of a child in New Mexico, the judge will primarily look to see what‘s in the best interests of the child. In determining the best interests of the child, the Courts look to many factors.

Of course, health and safety are among the greatest concerns. This includes both physical and mental health of both the parent and the child. Drug use is seen to be detrimental to both the child and the parent.

Obviously, drug use can be a threat to the child‘s and the parent‘s safety. It can also affect their mental and physical health. It does not take a great deal of imagination to envision the many different ways drug use while caring for children could affect their health and safety.

Likewise, the use of illegal drugs or the abuse of prescription drugs is hardly conducive of the mental health or the child or the parent. Though the Court is looking to the child primarily, a parent that has obvious mental health issues as evidenced by drug use will likely enjoy very little unsupervised time with the child.

Joint Custody Presumption Thrown Out with Drug Use

Keep in mind that in New Mexico, judges begin with the presumption that joint custody, and comparable if not equal time-sharing, is likely in the best interest of the child unless there are other factors at play. The presumption is rebuttable and there are many circumstances sufficient to overcome this presumption.

Drug use is one such circumstance. Drug and alcohol will play a key role in a judge‘s custody decision. If a parent has a drug problem (or alcohol addiction for that matter), it‘s going to be pretty tough for that parent to be considered for joint custody of the child.

In fact, many family law commentators have noted that drug use can be a single, defining factor in a judge‘s custody decision. This is especially true if a judge finds out that a parent used drugs while caring for the child.

In cases of serious drug issues as evidenced by a parent‘s unwillingness or inability to abide by court orders addressing drug use, the parent may very well be allowed only limited and supervised visits with the child.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help

If you‘re currently involved in a child custody case in the Albuquerque are and are concerned about matters of drug use or alcohol abuse, it‘s important to speak to an experienced family law attorney. This is the case no matter which side of the fence you are on.


Related Reading:
Changing the Parenting Plan in New Mexico
Psychological Testing During A Custody Evaluation

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