Whenever a court handles a child custody dispute, the judge’s primary goal is to determine what arrangement would be in the children’s best interests, while still being mindful of each parent’s rights. When the presence of regular alcohol abuse is a factor, it is unlikely that the parent with the problem will be able to obtain physical custody of the child — although he or she may not necessarily be disqualified from sharing legal custody.
Considering the state of the parent’s alcoholism
The current state of the parent’s alcoholism plays a major role in the judge’s decision. If, for example, you are struggling with the disease and you are not making any effort to address it, you’ll face an uphill battle in any child custody proceedings. Judges will see you have a serious problem and are not taking it seriously, leaving you unfit to have custody of your children. The judge may still allow you to have a say in how your child will be raised.
If, however, you are a recovering alcoholic, have been sober for an extended period and continue to make demonstrable efforts to overcome the problem, then the judge may spend more time considering your ability to maintain physical custody of your children. The judge may reach out to a treatment counselor or sponsor, for example, to learn about the progress you have made, your activity in rehabilitation and the length of time you have been sober.
Ultimately, alcoholism can negatively impact parental record, no matter how dormant it is. Even recovering alcoholics who have been sober for years could have a hard time during this process — and that can be quite unfair.
How to Prepare for a Child Custody Hearing
Your very first child custody hearing can be a difficult experience, especially if you are unfamiliar with how the process works. However, a little preparation can go a long way toward helping you feel more comfortable in court, giving you a better chance at a positive outcome.
Below are some tips to help you prepare for your child custody hearing:
- Know the laws: Enter the court with a general understanding of New York child custody laws so you are not surprised by anything that happens. This will give you a better idea of the challenges you will face and what you need to prove to secure custody of your children.
- Have your documents prepared and organized: Work with your family law attorney to prepare all the necessary documents — and have those items well organized for your court appearance. Some examples of documents you might bring include an annotated visitation schedule, a phone log, proof of child support payments and any other notes or documents that demonstrate your capabilities as a parent.
- Lean on your attorney: Follow your attorney’s lead in the courtroom and let him or her do most of the talking. Learn appropriate courtroom etiquette and never interrupt others or speak out of turn. Your professionalism in court will help you create a positive impression on the judge overseeing your case.
- Dress appropriately: It’s also important to dress appropriately. If you want to secure custody of your children, you should be focused on making a good impression, and professional attire is a big part of that. Before your judge hears any evidence related to your case, he or she will likely form an opinion of you based solely on your appearance. This might seem unfair, but it’s a basic fact — positive first impressions are more likely to yield positive results.
Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer
If you have a question about child custody question or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
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