For a parent, there is nothing more important than protecting your child from harm. We spend our lives attempting to raise our children in the best way possible so that they may grow up to be healthy, healthy, and productive adults. The saying I have heard before that I particularly like is that we are not raising our children to be good kids, but raising them to become good adults. That sticks with me when my wife and I are working together to grow our own three children.
Helping your children to grow up to be influential adults means that they need to have good modeling of adult behavior in their lives. The most frequent contact your child will have with adults is with you and their other parent. Sometimes more important than simply telling your children what to do or how to behave is showing them how you behave in your daily life. Another saying that I am fond of is that more is caught than taught when parenting your kids. This means that your children are more likely to learn from you as a parent by your actions than by your words.
If you are anything like me as a parent, this is something that you struggle with on occasion. The simple truth is that it is much easier to tell your children how to behave than to show them how to be good people and citizens. Our habits and actions often fall short of what our lofty words have attempted to offer our kids. For this reason, modeling behavior through step become difficult in comparison to simply telling your kids how to act through verbal instruction. Essentially, many times as parents, we ask our kids to do as we say and not as we do.
Anyone who has ever attempted to parent children can tell you that this is not an effective way to raise kids. While our kids do not have fully developed brains and often lack maturity, the simple truth is that they are very good at seeing through fraudulent acts and are very effective at determining when a parent is authentic and not genuine. As a result, you need to model honest, fair, and well-developed behavior in all areas of your life if you expect your children to be the solid citizens that we all hope they will become.
We have a hard enough time when attempting to raise kids when it comes to modeling behavior that is appropriate and consistent with the behavior that we want to see out of them. It's not that we are hypocrites as parents, but it has to do with that; we are human beings. Human beings tend to fall short in many areas of their lives and look for forgiveness from those around them. If we're all being honest with ourselves, we would say that this is the case for the people in our lives and us. It's no secret that human beings are not perfect and that we have faults no matter who we are or how hard we work at doing better each day.
With that said, parenting becomes even more of a challenge when you are doing so as a single mom or dad. While many circumstances play into a child custody or divorce case, the reality of your situation is that after having gone through a child custody or divorce case, you will likely be raising your child as a single parent for at least a short time. Having to discipline, instruct in good model behavior for a child without another parent present is indeed something that challenges even the most well-equipped parent. There is no parenting class or instructional video that can adequately prepare a parent to live in separate households from their child's other parent. Even if you do not believe your co-parent to be a great mom or dad, I think it bears mentioning that two heads are almost always better than one when raising a child in a household.
Part of the challenges associated with raising a child in a post-divorce or post-child custody world is that you do not have control over the actions of your co-parent. Not that you ever did even while you were still married or in a relationship with that person, but it is a lot easier to marriage and observe a person's behavior when living with you on good terms. Once a family law case begins, it is fair to say that it is doubtful that your Co-parent and you are any longer in good times. Therefore, a whole new set of challenges awaits you as your child custody or divorce case unfolds.
One major challenge that may be a part of your own life is raising a child with a Co-parent who has an opioid or other drug addiction. It can be upsetting or frightening to need to Co-parent with someone who has a severe drug or alcohol addiction. People that depend on opioids to get through the day may even have traumas or other incidents in their past that can be damaging to their well-being. Needless to say, it is not easy to raise a child in tandem with a person who has an opioid addiction.
Another facet of this issue occurs when you are going through your family law case and need to decide how best to work through the issues of custody, possession, and Visitation with an opposing parent who has the addiction. In contrast, the state of Texas wants very much for both parents to have a relationship with their child you need to balance the need to protect your child from potential harm. You've been doing this during the pandemic and need to work towards doing so during your family law case, as well.
Conservatorships of a child with an addict co-parent
more than just physically protecting your child during periods of possession and visitation, he also needs to be aware that the decisions you make regarding the negotiation of rights and duties when parenting your child are also crucial. We often lose sight of the fact that the way we parent our children is just as important as the time that we spend with them. Allowing your Co-parent who is an opioid addict to make decisions on behalf of your child can seriously harm their ability to grow up in an effective and loving environment.
For starters, parents in Texas have a right to make decisions on behalf of their children when it comes to health and educational matters. These are arguably two of the essential areas in your child's life, and to trust a person who has an opioid addiction to make good decisions for your child independently of you and consult with you on matters where that is necessary may be a leap of faith. Depending on your spouse or significant other's willingness to gain a level of sobriety over their addiction should inform how you negotiate through this subject.
You should lean on your experience with your Co-parent and work with your attorney when determining what sort of positions to take in this regard. In some instances, your Co-parent may be able to take on a whole load of responsibilities when it comes to raising your child. This could be the case if your co-parent has been going through diligent in regimented treatment for some time and has shown no signs of relapse into their former ways of addiction. On the other hand, if your Co-parent is in the throes of a full-on addiction to opioids, then they likely are not capable of sharing decision-making abilities for your child right now. That does not mean that they will forever be barred from doing so, but for now, it will be imprudent to negotiate on a level playing field in this regard.
When it comes to the duties associated with raising your child, your Co-parent also has a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for your child when they are in your co-parent's possession. Most of the time, this requirement is fulfilled simply by having a relatively safe home, free from dangers and absent persons who could potentially harm your child. However, suppose your Co-parent is a drug addict. In that case, it is more likely that dangerous substances, people that are hazardous or other conditions may be in the home of your Co-parent that presents a clear, immediate danger to your child. That's, you need to determine what the level of risk is when it comes to your c0parent’s home and allowing your child to have overnight or extended periods of possession with them.
Visitation and possession issues for a person with an opioid addiction
finally, you will need to sort through issues related to visitation and possession of your child during a family law case to perform your due diligence when it comes to maintaining your child's safety. You should not necessarily conflate a person's addictions from the remote past and insist that they cannot be a changed person. A person can commit to changing their way of life and then seeing those changes come to fruition by dramatically changing their habits. Therefore, an opioid addiction from 20 years ago probably will not change your family law case's course substantially.
On the other hand, if your Co-parent is still in the throes of opioid addiction, then it absolutely would not be appropriate for them to have overnight or extended periods of Visitation with your child. It would help if you were vigilant about maintaining your child's safety no matter what the feelings of your co-parent are on this subject. Sometimes a co-parent will be reasonable about the need to restrict their visitation based on their opioid addiction. However, most of the time, the attic will not comprehend why it is an issue for them not to have extended periods of Visitation with the child.
There is too much risk associated with overnight Visitation to let your child be with your co-parent for this long time. If your co-parent will not work with you in mediation and settle on a good possession and visitation structure, then you have no choice but to take your case to a trial and present evidence to a judge. Allowing yourself and your child to be put in harm's way when you can present evidence to a judge would be a wrong decision on your part. Well, no one wants to go to a divorce trial; your co-parent may force your hand in these circumstances. It would help if you were prepared to present evidence as to why supervised visitation or something similar is in your child's best interest due to the opioid addiction of your co-parent.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
The attorneys and staff at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to thank you for your interest in our blog and law practice. If you find yourself with any additional questions about this subject or any other in the world of family law, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. Please join us again tomorrow as we continue to share unique content about the world of Texas family law here on our blog.