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Marijuana law may affect Colorado child custody cases

On November 8, the people of Colorado voted to decriminalize the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana. This change in law has sent ripples through the state’s criminal justice system, leaving prosecutors and courts to grapple with new issues and legal questions.

But Amendment 64 hasn’t just affected criminal proceedings. Allowing people to use (and in some cases grow) previously illegal drugs could have an impact on child custody matters in Colorado as well.

It is not unusual for courts to consider a parent’s drug use when determining child custody and parenting time. Judges may consider illegal drug use a reason that children should not spend as much time with that parent. However, Colorado now treats marijuana more like alcohol – and courts are not in the habit of taking children away from a parent who enjoys a drink now and then when the kids are in bed.

When determining custody, courts typically look at what arrangement is in the best interests of the child. How marijuana use factors into that equation remains to be seen but the decisions of judges deciding such matters will likely play a large part in shaping this part of the law.

If you are engaged in a dispute over child custody or visitation, the stakes are extremely high and it is important to enlist someone who can help protect your interests. Consider contacting a family law attorney with experience in related matters. He or she can work with you to understand your family’s unique situation and pursue the best possible outcome for you and your loved ones.

Source: The Denver Post, “Parenting and pot: Colorado divorce lawyers’ perspective on marijuana legalization,” Alexandra White and Carolyn Witkus, Jan. 27, 2013

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