If issues with alcohol contributed to your divorce, you’re not alone. One study found that the divorce rate rises as alcohol consumption rises. When these divorcing couples have children, balancing the safety of the kids with their ability to maintain a relationship with the alcoholic parent can be complicated.
Children who have a parent with an alcohol or other substance abuse issue are at greater risk for attention deficit disorder (ADD), low self-esteem and anxiety. They’re also more likely to have problems at school and on standardized tests.
Often, the parents in these situations can’t work out a custody agreement on their own, so they rely on a judge to make the decision. The judge’s primary concern has to be the safety and well-being of the kids. Therefore, even if a parent has accepted their issues with alcohol and is committed to remaining sober, a judge may be reluctant to allow them the kind of access to their kids they’d like to have.
One way to prove that you’re remaining sober and to increase the amount of parenting time you’re allowed to have is to agree to use an alcohol monitoring system. These tools, which are similar to Breathalyzers used by law enforcement, are not uncommon in custody cases. They have a number of tamper-proof features, and the results can be sent to the court, the other parent or whomever else is designated.
Testing schedules can vary. A person may agree to submit to regular daily testing, regardless of whether they’re around the kids or not. Alternatively, they may use the system to prove their sobriety only around their designated parenting time.
It’s understandable that you might feel resentful about having to use an alcohol monitoring system to be able to spend time with your kids. However, it can be the best way to prove that you are remaining sober. It takes the “he said/she said” element out of the custody battle — at least when it comes to alcohol. This can allow you to have regularly scheduled parenting time that your kids can count on, help you build (or rebuild) your relationship with them and provide evidence that you can bring to the court when you eventually seek greater custody.
Your family law attorney can provide more information about the various types of alcohol monitoring systems and how they can help you remain an integral part of your kids’ lives.