Pennsylvania parents who have an ex-spouse who may be struggling with substance abuse may have concerns about the safety of the children they share. It is important to know what they should do to protect their children and still be in compliance with child custody orders.
The courts can be notified of a parent's substance abuse if the situation is reported to the court from which the child custody order originated or to a state's family services agency. They may also address the issue at a child custody hearing.
If a parent with a substance abuse problem is unable to properly care for his or her children or present a hazard to their well-being, the court will respond. An investigation may be initiated if the matter is brought up during a child custody hearing. When making a custody decision, the courts will determine what is in the best interest of the child and will consider if a parent's drug or alcohol use impairs his or her ability to take care of the children.
If a custody order is already in place and the issue of a parent's substance abuse is raised, the court may limit a parent's contact with the children by amending the order. There are situations in which the court may require supervision for a non-custodial parent's visitation time in order to make sure that the children are visited in a controlled and safe atmosphere. The visit may be overseen by a family member or a court-appointed social worker. A family law attorney may assist with obtaining a modified parenting order if a change in circumstances present a danger to the children.