Without question, addiction is devastating, not only on the person suffering with the addiction, but also their friends and family. And, it cannot be argued that those hurt most profoundly are the children of the addicted.
Children feel all that goes along with having a struggling addict as a parent and the effects can cause children to act out, suffer their own emotional problems, do poorly in school, and more. Because of these negative effects on kids, some parents lose the right to custody or even parenting time with their children, until they seek help and overcome their addiction.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to get help and complete treatment for your addiction, be it drugs, alcohol or even a sex addiction that affected your marriage and family. If you have lost parenting time, or the right to spend time with your children because of your addiction, but you have sought and completed treatment, you are able to petition the court to reinstate your parenting time.
If there is a formal court order that was entered by a family judge that terminated your parenting time, you will have to file a motion with the family court where this order was entered, asking that your parenting time be reestablished with your children. In your papers, you will outline the steps that you have taken to overcome your addiction and the continuing steps that you plan to take to ensure continued recovery. It is wise to attach to your paperwork copies of your discharge summary from treatment, relevant doctor’s reports, proof of enrollment in continued recovery programs and statement of any other professionals that can help your case.
Whatever is sent to the court, you must send to your children’s other parent, because they have the right to file their own paperwork with the court in response to yours. Be prepared: your children’s other parent may oppose your request to see the children based upon your past actions. Try your best to not get angry at them. Hopefully, they are simply looking out for the best interests of the kids.
The court will evaluate your current situation in light of what is in the best interests of the children. You may have to have a custody hearing where you will testify about your recovery. You may have to call your therapists or doctor’s to testify about your progress and your prognosis. After your hearing, the judge may order that your initial parenting time be supervised, either by the court or by a trusted friend or family member that both you and your ex agree upon. Supervised visitation is meant to be temporary, so if this is ordered, be sure to cooperate with the terms of the parenting time plan and do not miss any visits. The success of this time will be a big factor in getting unsupervised parenting time in the future.
Of course, continue to work on your recovery. Courts strongly favor the participation of both parents in children’s lives, but only so far as the time spent with the children is not harmful. If you keep working at your recovery and your relationships with your kids, you will have greater success with them and in life in general.
If you would like more information regarding reestablishing parenting time with your children, please contact us to schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys familiar with parenting time and custody laws in New Jersey.