The primary duty of parents is to provide a safe and healthy environment in which their children can grow and thrive. In fact, this may have been the driving force behind the custody decisions the court made in your divorce. You may have had the grueling job of proving you are fit to parent or the even more distasteful work of demonstrating the unfitness of your former spouse.
If part of your reluctance to equally share parenting time relates to drug or alcohol abuse by your spouse, you may have been alarmed when a Colorado family court ordered shared custody or visitation. While your spouse may have been able to handle his or her addiction enough to interact with the children while you were married, you may have grave concerns about the safety of the children when they are alone with your ex.
The help of the court
Drug or alcohol abuse is a serious problem in many families, and children often suffer for it, whether psychologically or physically. You may be noticing an escalation in your ex’s drug or alcohol use, and this has prompted you to return to court to seek a modification of your custody order.
You would be wise to keep a careful log of every encounter you and your children have with your ex because you may need evidence to show the court that the addiction is interfering with your ex’s ability to parent. In addition to your log, you may need to provide other documentation that your children are not safe with their other parent, for example:
- Affidavits from eyewitnesses
- Reports from times when police responded to your ex’s home
- DUI records
- Hospital or ER reports related to your ex’s substance abuse, either for your ex or for the children
- Testimony from your children
While your hope may be to terminate any contact between your ex and the children, the court may not take this drastic step unless there is evidence that your spouse is violent or abusive to you, the children or someone else in the household. The most common consequences include restricted access and supervised visitation during which a social worker must be with your spouse anytime the children are in his or her custody. These stipulations may remain in place while your ex completes rehabilitation or counseling.
Reach out for help
It is not a good idea to take matters into your own hands. Unless the children are in immediate danger, you may risk your own custody privileges if you simply refuse to honor the court’s custody order. Instead, your best option may be seeking the advice of an attorney who can guide you in the most appropriate course of action for the best interests of your children.