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Legal Effects of Substance Abuse on Child Custody in California

Posted by Michael Geller | Apr 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

When parents decide to get divorced, the process can be stressful and emotionally charged, especially when it comes to the issue of child custody. This sensitive matter becomes even more complicated when you, or your spouse, has a substance abuse issue. If you are struggling with an addiction to opioids, alcohol, or any other substance, it is important to understand the uphill battle you are likely to encounter when seeking custody over your child, or children, during a divorce.

Before delving into the impact substance abuse can have on child custody, let's briefly address some core concepts and legal principles related to child custody in California.

Different Types of Child Custody in California

In California, there are two primary types of child custody: (i) physical custody and (ii) legal custody. Let's look at each.

Physical custody, as the name implies, focuses on where your child will reside (i.e., where they are physically located).  In contrast, legal custody refers to your legal authority as the parent of your child. Legal custody is important because it focuses on your ability to make certain key life decisions on your child's behalf. For example, when you have legal custody of your child, you are empowered to decide the types of medical treatment your child may receive, where your child may go to school, what religion your child will practice, and so forth.

How Courts Typically Determine Child Custody in California

Many judges prefer to divide child custody between the parents. Nevertheless, this is not the governing legal standard. Instead, California courts will determine child custody on what living arrangement would be in the best interests of your child, or children. To determine the “best interests” of your child, a California court will examine multiple issues, including:

  • The bond you share with your child
  • Where you reside and the proximity to your child
  • Whether you are able to emotionally support your child
  • Any special needs your child may have
  • Any other factor the court deems relevant to your case

Impact of Substance Abuse on Child Custody

If your spouse alleges that you are struggling with substance abuse, you need to retain the services of an experienced divorce lawyer in San Francisco. Why? Because a divorce attorney will have the skill and ability to prove to a court that you either do not have such an issue with substance abuse, or that you are doing everything in your power to correct the issue, such as attending rehab or counseling.

Substance abuse issues can drastically affect the outcome of your custody agreement, which is why you cannot go it alone and try to obtain custody without the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney in San Francisco. Custody over your child is too important. You owe it to yourself to have a top-notch lawyer by your side who is focused on fighting for you.  

Looking for Legal Help with Child Custody Issues in Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, and Contra Costa County? Take Action and Contact The Geller Firm Today

If you have questions related to the laws and guidelines governing child custody in Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, or anywhere in Contra Costa County, California, now is the time to contact The Geller Firm. Our team of experienced and respected Lafayette child support and child custody attorneys are here to help. We are in the San Francisco Bay Area and are proud to provide legal services in Lafayette and Contra Costa County, along with San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Pleasanton. Our legal team is available for virtual and in-person consultations. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

About the Author

Michael Geller

Michael Geller is an attorney licensed by the State Bar of California.


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