Some people struggle with substance abuse prior to the start of a lawsuit. The substance being abused ranges from recreational drugs and pills, but what is most common in the cases that I have seen is alcohol abuse. In fact, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "more than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems." Other people may struggle with alcohol abuse after the suit is initiated. No matter when the problem surfaces, having an addiction to alcohol could impact your custody case.
If you have been arrested for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) or DUI (Driving Under the Influence), it could reflect poorly on your ability to act in the best interests of the children, act responsibly or provide a safe environment for the children. After all, in essence excessive alcohol impacts your judgment.
How Does Alcohol Abuse Impact Custody in Texas?
Under Texas law, divorcing parents as well as parties involved in Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship suits ("SAPCR"s) are encouraged to share the responsibilities and pleasures of parenthood. They are also charged with the duty of providing a safe and stable environment for their children. The family law court will make its custody decision after reviewing all of the evidence that has been presented. Its primary consideration is what is in the best interest of the child(ren). This is why parents who have a DWI/DUI conviction on their record, or have charges pending for a DWI/DUI, could have major hurdles to jump over when determining child custody and visitation rights to the child(ren). It only takes one conviction that may have even occurred many years before the custody battle to raise a red flag about that parent’s ability to provide a safe environment and to act responsibly.
If DWI/DUI charges are pending, the conviction was recent, and/or if a parent has more than one conviction, getting or keeping custody will not be easy. The parent without a DWI/DUI may request (and be granted) Sole Managing Conservatorship on the basis that the parent with the DWI/DUI history cannot provide a safe or stable environment for the children and is therefore unable to act in the best interests of the children.
What is Sole Managing Conservatorship?
Sole Managing Conservatorship is what most people refer to as Sole Custody. A parent with Sole Managing Conservatorship can make all the major decisions on behalf of the children even if the non-custodial parent does not agree. Since visitation usually involves parents driving to and from locations to exchange the child(ren), visitation may be denied or made to be supervised to the parent with the DWI/DUI because the Court may determine that the parent with the conviction cannot provide safe transportation for the children. This is especially true if the driver’s license is suspended under a DWI.
If you are a parent with a DWI or a parent wanting Sole Managing Conservatorship based on the other parent’s DWI/DUI(s), contact a child custody attorney to help you with your custody case.