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Will my past substance abuse affect my parenting rights?

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2021 | Child Custody, Divorce |

Everyone makes mistakes. However, we don’t deserve to have our mistakes follow us everywhere we go if we’ve already addressed the problem. Because of that, the courts in Illinois may award you with custody of your child if you can prove to them that you’ve reflected upon your actions and stopped abusing of a substance. However, if the abuse is recent, you may only get legal custody of your child. Fortunately, you may get both types of custody in the future if your circumstances keep improving.

Child custody in Illinois

The courts in Illinois always think about the child’s best interests when making a decision regarding custody. As a parent’s substance abuse can put the child at risk and affect their wellbeing, the court may not award the parent who suffers from the abuse with physical and legal custody of their child. They can, however, award them with legal custody and visitation rights. Parents who suffered from substance abuse in the distant past can get both types of custody if they prove that they haven’t had a relapse since they stopped consuming the substance.

Remedies for parents

If it has been a long time since you stopped abusing of a substance, and your ex brings it up in court, you can defend yourself by taking a chemical test and proving to the court that you have not been under the influence. You must also tell them if you have completed a rehabilitation program. If they see that your condition has significantly improved, they may give you both physical and legal custody of your child.

If you still have a substance abuse problem, you must know that you may get legal custody of your child. Physical custody may be harder to get. However, if you don’t get physical custody of your child, you can ask the court to modify the order later on. Also, you may be able to see your child as you’ll have visitation rights. Depending on your specific circumstances, the court may impose some restrictions to your parenting rights, such as:

  • You cannot see the child unless you attend a rehabilitation program or Narcotics Anonymous meetings
  • You cannot use a substance during parenting time
  • You can only visit the child if a staff member from the Department of Children and Family Services supervises the visitation
  • You can visit the child as long as you agree to a random substance abuse testing
  • You cannot see the child in the presence of other people

If you fail to comply with the court’s orders, the court may order the restriction of your visitation rights and overall parental responsibilities.

Modifying the order

Courts can modify custody orders for good and bad reasons. This means that if you have a current substance abuse problem, you may change the order in the future if you complete a rehabilitation program and your circumstances improve. However, it also means you might lose custody of your child if you start using the substance again. Whatever happens, you have the right to present your arguments to the court and prove to them that your child will benefit from seeing you more if your problem with substances is a thing of the past. Your mistakes should not define you, and you can fight for what you love most in court.