When the court decides upon child custody, the criteria it bases its decision upon is very simple: What is in the best interest of the child? There are many factors that are taken into account when making the decision, but the child’s best interest remains the foundation principle. The court will examine every aspect of each parent’s living situation, work, financial stability, proximity to school, and even hobbies. If one parent has a substance abuse problem, that can be one of the major deciding factors of custody.
According to research published in the Current Opinion of Pediatrics, children of alcoholics (COAs) are two to 10 times more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol than non COAs. Research has time and again come to this conclusion for alcohol, as well as other addictive controlled substances. While the majority of COAs do not develop alcoholism or other psychological disorders, when the court has a choice between a non-alcoholic parent and an alcoholic parent, with all other factors being equal, the non-alcoholic parent stands a much better chance of receiving custody.
Children of parents who are alcoholics are more at risk than their peers of developing a host of life-lasting disorders. These disorders include learning disabilities, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional disorders. Research published by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 41 percent of study participants (children brought up in a home with an alcoholic parent) developed “serious coping problems” by the age of 18. Living with an alcoholic parent causes children serious stress, depression, and trauma at a time when they are most vulnerable to negative environmental factors. Additionally, alcoholic parents are more likely to neglect or even abuse children and/or their spouse. The court is aware of these statistics, and even if a particular parent has no history of abuse or neglect, they face a serious disadvantage of receiving custody.
If you are worried about the safety and well-being of your child in the hands of their alcoholic parent, the Law Office of Charles D. Stark can offer immediate assistance in your custody dispute. Likewise, if you have a history of alcoholism but know that you would still be capable of offering stable, responsible parental guidance to your child, we can help you win your case. Call one of our Sonoma County custody attorneys today at 707-527-9900.