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Drug and alcohol testing requirements in child custody agreements

The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that over 24 million people are married to an alcoholic or drug addict. Many of these marriages, not surprisingly, cannot endure a spouse's substance abuse. It's estimated to be the cause of more than 7 percent of all divorces.

When a couple has children, it's essential to take steps during your divorce to ensure your children's safety. Of course, in many cases, it's preferable for children to maintain some type of relationship with the parent who's an addict or alcoholic. Therefore, specific protections need to be included in the custody and visitation agreements to ensure that your children are not endangered emotionally or physically by that parent.

A crucial element of any agreement involving an alcoholic or addict is mandated participation in a drug and alcohol testing program. A well-designed program can help reduce the chances of your ex drinking or using drugs when he or she is with the children.

Companies like Health Street have testing programs specifically designed for custody and visitation agreements. The agreement can be written in any number of ways. It can mandate that the parent be tested prior to, during and/or after any visitations with the children.

Results can be reported to the two parents, the attorneys, and/or the court. The agreement should also designate what can happen if a parent tests positive. He or she could lose visitation rights or potentially all parental rights if a pattern of continued use is found.

Your Massachusetts family law attorney can help craft the language for a detailed drug and/or alcohol testing program in the custody agreement that works for your situation. That's an important part of helping a spouse and children move on after a divorce involving an addict or alcoholic. However, therapy and support groups like Al-Anon can also provide help.

Source: Health Street, "Divorcing a Drug Addict," Nina Fenton, accessed Oct. 13, 2016

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