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If I go to rehab, will I lose custody of the kids?

It's well-established that the opioid crisis has reached epic proportions in our nation, and Frisco is no different. Families have been torn apart by the addictions of one or more of their members.

When that family member is a parent of minor children, however, it is especially heart-wrenching, as these youngsters may be forced to grow up without one or both of their parents involved in their lives.

Seeking help — a double-edged sword?

There is a perception that to admit that a powerful addiction holds one in its sway is detrimental to retaining custody of one's children. However, the likelihood that those closest to a serious opiate addict are unaware of the problem is almost nil. Seeking help by committing to rehab and a follow-up 12-step program can therefore be perceived as a responsible move for parents with drug problems.

Family court judges are dedicated to keeping the children's best interest foremost in their minds as they mull custody decisions. Keeping families together is a primary goal, but when the parent is an addict who is not actively pursuing recovery, few judges would agree that allowing the kids to remain in the home with that parent would be best for the children.

Long-term versus short-term parenting goals

It's understandable that a parent in the midst of a contested custody battle may loathe to put it on the record that they have a substance abuse problem. But the other parent, concerned relatives or state Child Protective Services (CPS) workers will surely make that claim as the premise of their own argument for custody.

In that sense, it is usually better to be forthright about one's addictions and proactively seek help by going to rehab and/or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings. If the custodial parent spends any significant length of time in a rehabilitation program — and most programs run from 30 to 90 days — it would, of course, become necessary to at least temporarily transfer custody of the children to their other parent or another responsible adult.

There is always the chance that doing so could cause the children to remain living with that individual for months, or even years, regardless of the addict's new-found sobriety. That's why in any type of custody matter, it is prudent to seek legal guidance before making any changes to the custody agreement or situation.

Your family law attorney can make you aware of the legal consequences of your decisions and actions. He or she can assist you with coming up with the best plan so that you can continue — once sober — to remain available as a loving parent in your children's lives.

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