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Family Law Attorney Stacy Sabatini, Esq.

News and insights about divorce and family law in New York.

The Effect of Alcohol and Drug Use on New York Custody Cases

Whether you are concerned about the alcohol or drug use of the parent of your child, or your own use has been questioned, alcohol and drug use can impact your New York custody case.

The use of drugs and alcohol can affect the entire family; however, the impact of parental alcohol or drug abuse can be especially devastating to a child. Like all legal cases involving children, the court’s objective is to come to a custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. Because parental substance abuse can deprive the child of stability, safety, and a healthy relationship with the using parent, the court takes parental drug and alcohol use seriously.


However, New York law allows the judge or magistrate to consider the totality of the circumstances; while your or the other parent’s alcohol or drug use is a factor in determining custody, it is usually not the determining factor. For instance, you may have struggled with addiction in the past but have been improving in therapy while the other parent may be unfit for a myriad of other reasons, such as criminal activity or domestic violence.

When accusations of alcohol or drug use arise, the judge or magistrate will likely order one or both parents to submit to testing. If a parent fails the court-ordered drug and alcohol test, the court has several options. First, the court can order the parent to complete drug or alcohol treatment classes. Second, the parent may be required to take another drug or alcohol test in 60-90 days. Both completing the treatment classes and successfully passing the second test show the court that the parent is committed to sobriety.

Just like completion of treatment classes and successfully passing a second test demonstrates to the court that the parent is committed to sobriety, failure may in some cases cause that parent to lose custody or be limited to supervised visitation.

Experienced custody lawyers for New York families

If you are a New York parent who is concerned that alcohol or drug use will be a factor in your custody case, it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney by your side to protect your children and protect your custody rights. For more information on how the Law Offices of Stacy Sabatini, Esq. can help your custody case, please call 845-243-0295 or email our office online. Our New City, New York office proudly represents families in Rockland, Orange and Westchester counties.

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