How Alcohol Abuse Can Affect Child Custody Decisions

Alcohol abuse refers to too much consumption of alcohol, which can lead to various problems. It not only affects one’s health, but its influence on behaviors could cause personal and relationship issues. Various factors could cause alcoholism in specific people more than others, but one thing remains in child custody cases: those who abuse alcohol are unlikely to win custody battles.

How Alcoholic Parents Affect Children

Adults, in general, suffer from the effects of too much alcohol consumption and can display specific symptoms. They tend to drink excessively with unsuccessful attempts to limit drinking. Their insatiable craving for alcohol means they will likely drink at any time of the day.

Alcoholic parents suffer physically and mentally, so they find it hard to fulfill parental obligations. When subjected to alcohol testing by facilities like Lextox, the detection of high levels of alcohol in their system is certain.

Alcoholism may even cause uncontrollable behavioral issues, such as aggression and self-disclosure. Victims of alcoholic parents can suffer from mental health issues, with young children more susceptible to internalizing disorders. It is why it’s crucial to obtain enough evidence of the parent’s alcoholism to make decisions that could aid in the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Additionally, alcoholic parents tend to display negative behaviors such as lying, being secretive, and denying their condition. They may also instill fear in people around them and try to avoid confrontation regarding their addiction. As a result, their children become distrustful and develop poor self-worth, affecting their ability to socialize normally and handle their concerns.

Mental Effects Of Adult Alcoholism On Children 

Children are impressionable, so living with parents who exhibit violent and abusive behaviors may result in chaotic experiences within the family. They may feel unnecessary guilt, thinking they may have caused problems at home. Besides, they will sometimes assume the responsibility of caring for their parents instead of the other way around.

Moreover, children are likely to feel stress and tension at home. An example of this is separation anxiety It is a disorder that children display when they are too worried about being separated from certain family members. They may also develop insecurity and distrust, leading them to suppress how they feel. Thus, they can sometimes exhibit any of the following:

  • Depression
  • Bedwetting
  • Obsessiveness
  • Frequently crying or becoming easily upset

What Happens In Child Custody Cases?

If you have seen child custody cases portrayed by the media, they only present the surface. Such cases can be complicated, with more layers that require a deeper understanding. One doesn’t simply gain the right to raise the children; the other is ordered to co-parent separately.

Many still believe that it’s in the child’s best interest to have both parents in their lives. Hence, parents are encouraged to act civil for the sake of their children. The terms visitation and custody have notoriously gained a bad impression in child custody cases, which is why they now use physical and legal custody terms.

Physical custody encompasses where the child resides after a court determines which parent is responsible for providing daily care. Meanwhile, a parent awarded the opportunity to participate in the rearing of their child, such as making decisions about where to go to school, and still keeps limited parental rights has legal custody.

Legal Decision And The Impact Of Alcohol Abuse

When a parent is proven to be abusing alcohol and appears to refuse professional help, it can negatively impact custody decisions. In such a case, the court is likely to award custody to the parent who can physically, mentally, and emotionally take care of a child. In severe cases, parents will only be given limited visitations until they receive the proper intervention.

While some states don’t make decisions based on only one factor, they will act in the best interest of the child or children. After all, their physical and mental health and safety take center stage, especially when their parents’ or guardians’ alcohol dependency compromises or threatens their well-being.

However, the court also considers the parents’ right to keep interacting with their children. And while parents with current uncontrolled alcohol abuse wouldn’t get sole parental custody, the court might decide on visitation with certain conditions. An example of this would be remaining sober for a period while visiting their children.

The court will need more information on treatment, period, and history if the parent is currently in recovery. Those in authority might talk with a counselor or a social worker. Suppose they officially report that the parent is making progress for a considerable period. In that case, the court might consider joint custody, which is the ideal outcome where both parents will continue to make decisions for the welfare of their child.

If the parent still has a long way to recover, the court might decide on supervised visitation. The parent can see them with a family member or a trusted friend.


Alcohol abuse can impact not only the life of the parent but also their children. Furthermore, dependency on alcohol can range from different severities and bring out the worst in one’s behavior. Therefore, children are likely to suffer because of their parents’ alcoholism.

The law always looks out for the well-being of the children. They can only be kept safe when they are separated from alcoholic parents while they’re in recovery. This way, children can be protected and eventually reunited with their parents despite custody limitations.

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