Many alcoholics who no longer drink never consider themselves “recovered,” but always “recovering.” The recovery road is different for everyone. For some, it’s long and bumpy, with relapses. Others are able to stop drinking and stay sober for the rest of their lives.
Many alcoholic parents who are still drinking when they divorce don’t get custody of their children. They may only be allowed visitation and perhaps only if it’s supervised. That’s often the case if there was any kind of abuse (toward the children or any other family member), endangerment or neglect involved.
If you’re a parent in recovery, the parental rights you’re given at the time of your divorce don’t have to define your custody arrangements until your children reach adulthood. Your continued commitment to sobriety can help you gain greater access to your children (physical custody) and more of a say in important decisions that impact their lives (legal custody).
What you’ll need to show a court
If you’re considering seeking a modification to your custody agreement based on your sobriety, it’s essential to know what kind of factors the court will consider. These include things like the following:
- How long you’ve been sober
- Whether you acknowledge your problem with alcohol
- Whether you’re in a recovery program
- If you ever presented a danger to your children’s safety and well-being
Typically, a person whose drinking never caused them to endanger their children who has been sober for several years and continues to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings will be able to gain greater custody rights. You may improve your chances if you’re willing to submit to a court-approved alcohol monitoring system. Remember that the court’s primary interest is what’s in the best interests of your children.
Each situation is unique. You may have a better chance of getting a custody modification than you think. It’s a good idea to discuss your goals and concerns with a family law attorney who can help you make your case or take the steps that will put you in a better position to do so in the future.