If you are going through a contested custody battle as part of a divorce or otherwise, you might be shocked to learn that your social drinking habits are now an issue in the case. How could that have happened?
It's important to understand that custody battles can often become dirty little wars, with each parent lobbing grenades at the other in an attempt to gain the upper hand in the proceedings. It's unsurprising for industry insiders to see one spouse level accusations of addiction at the other — whether it is warranted or not. But there are ways you can minimize the impact of these allegations.
Do an honest self-assessment
If your ex is accusing you of unchecked alcoholism, the first thing you should do is take a long, hard look at your so-called "social drinking." Could your child's other parent be correct, as hard as that might be to face? It's often good to ask close friends and family members who are familiar with your drinking habits to assess whether they believe you might have a problem.
Alcoholism is a cumulative condition. While some unfortunate individuals have a genetic predisposition to developing an addiction to alcohol, most alcoholics start out as social drinkers whose conditions worsen gradually over time.
If you have any reason to believe that your ex's accusations have validity, you may be able to avert losing custody by acknowledging the problem and taking steps to resolve it. Quit drinking, start attending AA meetings and get a sponsor who can steer you through the rough patches.
What about social drug usage?
In reality, that is what is known as a unicorn, because it doesn't actually exist. Drugs are designed to be taken therapeutically to treat a specific condition. If they are taken for any other purpose by anyone other than for whom they were legally prescribed, that is a major issue that might indeed cost you the custody of the kids.
Ditto for street drug usage, which, by definition, is illegal and a barrier to aware and effective parenting. If you are buying pot or pills off the street and getting high, the courts could limit your parenting time as a result.
Perception is everything
Even if you and those closet to you honestly believe there is no substance abuse issue going on, you could still be portrayed as a hard drinker or a druggie by your ex. Consider the posts you make on social media.
Photos that show you at the club, raised drink in hand, or even chilling around a bonfire with the guys drinking a few beers can easily be misinterpreted. And if the date stamp indicates the drinking took place when the kids were within your control and custody, you could have a real problem on your hands.
If you believe your ex will raise these allegations in your child custody case, apprise your Freehold family law attorney of the situation as soon as possible.