By Jessica A. Bryant
One significant area of concern in some Colorado custody cases is that of addiction. More often than you might realize, allegations arise regarding drug and/or alcohol abuse by one or both parents. When these issues arises, there are a variety of considerations, including, how to prove them, how to defend against them, and other considerations when fashioning a parenting plan.
- Proof: When concerns arise that the other parent in your Colorado custody case may abuse alcohol and/or drugs, it is not enough to simply appear at court and tell the judge or magistrate you have concerns regarding substance abuse. You must be able to prove to the judicial officer that there is a problem. If the other parent has a criminal record related to drug or alcohol use (possession, driving under the influence, etc.), there are ways to obtain proof of their criminal history to provide to the court. This can include getting records directly from the criminal case or logging onto various websites which list not only criminal charges, but also the disposition of those charges in the criminal court.
If there is no documented history of drug or alcohol abuse, you may need to request the appointment of an expert. Common types of appointed experts in custody cases are Child and Family Investigators (CFI’s) and Parental Responsibilities Evaluators (PRE’s). While CFI’s cannot complete substance abuse evaluations, they can request that either or both parents undergo drug and/or alcohol testing. For example, a hair follicle test can detect certain drugs back, approximately 90 days. You could also request, or the CFI or PRE could recommend, that one or both parents undergo an independent substance abuse evaluation. This is an evaluation completed by a trained professional, generally a Certified Addictions Counselor (CACIII), to determine whether key features of abuse are present in an individual. While a CFI/PRE conducts a comprehensive evaluation related to overall custody recommendations, a substance abuse evaluator evaluates only on the issue of substance abuse. Continue reading