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Protecting your child from an opioid addicted parent

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 in order so that they may grow up to be healthy, healthy and productive adults. The saying that I have heard before that I like in particular is that we are not raising our children to be good kids but rather we are raising them to become good adults. That is something that sticks with me when I and my wife are working together to raise our own three children. 

Helping your children to grow up to be effective adults means that they need to be able to have good modeling of adult behavior in their lives. The most frequent contact your child will have with adults are 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 it comes to parenting your kids. This means that your children are more likely to learn from you as a parent by your actions then 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 it is to show them how to be a good person and citizen. Oftentimes our habits and our actions fall short of what our lofty words have attempted to show our kids. For this reason, modeling behavior through action 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 are often times lacking in maturity the simple truth is that they are very good at seeing through false acts and instead are very effective at determining when a parent is being authentic and when he or she is not being authentic. As a result, you need to be able 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 as it is 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's more so having to do with that, we are human beings. Human beings tend to fall short in many areas of our lives an look for forgiveness from those around us. I think if we're all being honest with ourselves, we would say that this is the case for us and the people in our lives. 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 there are many circumstances that play into a child custody or divorce case the reality of your situation will be 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 period of time. having to discipline, instruct in model good 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 for life living 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 it comes to 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 he or she is living with you on good terms. Once a family law case begins it is fair to say that it is very unlikely that your Co parent and you are any longer on good terms. 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 disconcerting or even frightening to need to Co parent with someone who has a serious 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 make decisions about how best to work through the issues of custody, possession, and Visitation with an opposing parent who has the addiction. While the state of Texas wants very much for both parents to be able to have a relationship with your 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 it comes to parenting your child is also crucial. Many times, we 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 be able to make decisions on behalf of your child can seriously harm their ability to grow up in an affective in loving environment. 

For starters, parents in Texas have a right to be able to make decisions on behalf of their children when it comes to health and educational matters. These are arguably two of the most important areas in your child's life and to trust a person who has an opioid addiction to be able to make good decisions for your child independently of you and consult with you on matters where that is necessary maybe a leap of faith. Depending on your spouse or significant others 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 full 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 showed no signs of relapse into their former ways of addiction. From the other hand, if your Co parent is in the throes of a full-on addiction to opioids then he or she likely is not capable of sharing decision making abilities for your child right now. That does not mean that he or she 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 duty to maintain a safe environment for your child when he or she is in your coparent's possession. Most of the time this requirement is fulfilled simply by having a home that is relatively safe, free from dangers an absent persons who could potentially harm your child. However, if your Co parent is a drug addict then it is more likely that substances that are dangerous, people that are dangerous or other conditions may be in the home of your Co parent that present a clear in 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 him or her. 

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 in order to perform your due diligence when it comes to maintaining your child's safety. One thing you should not do necessarily is conflate a person's addictions from the remote past and insist that he or she cannot be a changed person. It is entirely possible for a person to make a commitment to changing their way of life and then seeing those changes come to fruition by dramatically changing their personal habits. Therefore, an opioid addiction from 20 years ago probably will not change the course of your family law case dramatically. 

On the other hand, if your Co parent is still in the throes of an opioid addiction then it absolutely would not be appropriate for him or her to have overnight or extended periods of Visitation with your child.  You need to be vigilant about maintaining the safety of your child 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 his or her visitation based on their opioid addiction. However, most of the time in attic will not be able to comprehend why it is an issue for him or her to not have extended periods of Visitation with the child. 

There is simply too much risk associated with overnight Visitation to let your child be with your co-parent for this long period of time. If your co-parent will not work with you in mediation and settle on a reasonable 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 have the ability to present evidence to a judge would be a bad decision on your part. Well no one wants to go to a divorce trial your co-parent may force your hand in these circumstances. You should be prepared to present evidence as to why supervised visitation or something similar is in the best interest of your child do too 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 more unique content about the world of Texas family law here on our blog. 


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