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Co-Parenting with an Addict Ex-Spouse

Divorce is often a tragedy that a family has to cope with. It presents a challenge for all the parties involved. However, there are situations where the degree of difficulty is drastically increased. One such situation is if your ex-spouse is an addict.

When the ex-spouse is addicted to something, the divorce may be seen as a relief. However, if there are kids involved, one has no choice but to share parenting responsibilities with the ex-spouse. This situation can present some complications, some of which are enumerated below.

The Addicted Parent has Trouble with Committing to Schedules

By its definition, an addict has become dependent and is unable to function normally without the fixation. As a co-parent, addicts often fail to keep a commitment even if it were mutually agreed upon by both parties.

In a divorce setting, this could result in conflict or even legal implications. Custody is a legal matter and the judges impose that the schedules be followed to the letter.

The Child may be Exposed to Harmful Substances

As with addicts, they are likely to use harmful or toxic substances. Without the contentions of the other parent the addict co-parent may leave their drugs or even the paraphernalia in the household premises, within reach of the child. Regardless of the child’s age, this is never a good thing.

Addicts are more Prone to Negligence

If the child is dependent on a parent who is, in turn, dependent on something else, his needs may not be the first priority of the addicted co-parent. Thus, there would be times when the addicted parent would neglect the child’s meals or, in some cases, prescribed medication.

How to Cope with an Addict Co-Parent

There are necessary steps that a parent needs to undertake in order to cope with this challenging situation. It requires cooperation between the parents, the law and even the children.

Guarantee the Safety of the Child

The safety and security of the child is not negotiable. Thus, tests should be administered prior to awarding joint custody or even visitation rights for the addicted parent.

Document as much as Possible

As soon as the child reaches a reasonable age of responsibility, the parent should provide a mobile phone or other reasonable means of communication. The child should be trained to document any incidents while in custody of the addict ex-spouse.

Never Hesitate to Take Legal Action

If any negligence and/or violent behavior has been recorded, there co-parent should promptly inform the authorities. This will enable the revocation of custody or visitation rights if necessary.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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