Parents who are addicted to drugs have a negative effect on their children and there is a strong risk of abusive behavior. In Illinois divorces, co-parents can petition for changes to custody arrangements because of this correlation. If a parent feels that the other parent is putting the child at risk due to drug abuse, and they have enough evidence of the drug abuse problem, they can petition the courts to take away custody.
How Drug Addiction Hurts Children
Substance abuse and child abuse are closely linked, and the Department of Health warns that as many as 75% of child abuse cases involve the use of drugs and alcohol. Drug use increases violent behavior and aggressiveness, while also contributing to child neglect.
Even if a child is not physically abused, studies have shown that living with an addicted parent creates chronic stress. Children of drug-addicted parents often grow to repeat the behavior when they are adults.
What Co-Parents Can Do
If a co-parent suspects the child’s other parent is abusing drugs and putting the child’s safety at risk, he or she can approach the courts with proper evidence and seek a new custody arrangement.
Most child custody judges are hesitant to award parents sole custody based on accusations alone and developing or modifying parenting plans can be very difficult without direct knowledge or proof that the actions of the addicted parent are endangering the child. To prove that the other parent is putting the child in danger, parents need to gather evidence from third parties, such as medical providers if possible. A family law attorney can help parents gather evidence to present to the courts.
If the courts agree that the co-parent is endangering the child, the custody arrangement may change. Often, the addicted parent is given the opportunity to get treatment for addiction to regain custody. In Illinois, there are several nonprofit groups that provide counseling, treatment, parenting classes, and anger management to preserve or reunify families who are strained by drug abuse.