Note: This is part 1 of our special 2-part series on parenting after addiction recovery. Read part 2 here: Getting Back Your Parenting Time From the Courts After Addiction.
You’re out of rehab and determined to regain parenting time with your kids. Courts want children to have a relationship with both parents, but only if that’s in their best interest. If you have lost custody of your kids, or if your spouse has temporary custody due to your addiction, you will need to prove that you’re working on ongoing recovery and that you’re able to properly care for your children. Here are steps you need to take to regain parenting time.
Proof of sobriety. This will probably include attendance in 12-step programs as well as submitting to UAs and/or Breathalyzer tests before and after visitation with children. The judge is looking for consistency, so follow the court order exactly: attend 12-step meetings as required and comply with drug testing mandates. If you’re missing meetings and resisting drug testing, you will damage your credibility.
Parenting classes. The judge may order you to attend parenting classes. These classes will help you understand your child’s developmental stages. You will also learn effective communication skills and how to set appropriate limits and consequences. You may also learn ways to improve your co-parenting relationship with your ex. Your instructor will send a report to the court, so attend all classes.
Therapy. If you were in rehab, your treatment team probably gave you an aftercare plan. The judge will review this plan and instruct you to follow outpatient mental health treatment recommendations. Although you may feel that all you did in rehab was participate in therapy, you need regular outpatient therapy to support your recovery. Judge may also order therapy for co-parenting issues as well as family therapy. Your therapist may be required to submit proof of attendance to the court, so make sure you attend and participate in each session.
Obtain appropriate housing. Many recovering addicts discharge to a sober living home after rehab. While you’re residing in sober living, you will need to have visits with your children elsewhere. Not all recovering addicts are fortunate enough to return to their former home; if you have to look for new house, will need to demonstrate that you can provide a safe living environment for your children, which will include his or her own bedroom.
Visitation. Most addicts are required to have supervised visitation before they can have unmonitored visits with their children. Although it may feel embarrassing having another adult monitor your interactions with your kids, it’s important to behave appropriately with the monitor. This is part of being accountable for the consequences of your addictive behavior.
While you were married, you may have experienced your then-spouse as being intrusive and controlling. Those feelings are probably amplified now that you have to prove to your ex – and seemingly, everyone else — that you can take care of your own children. Some addicts let resentment hijack good judgment by refusing to adhere to court orders regarding visitation. Don’t do this! Accountability is the cornerstone for recovery. As much as you dislike feeling that your ex wields power over you, remember that you brought on our current situation by making poor choices. Instead of harboring resentment towards your former spouse, be thankful that you have the opportunity to repair your relationship with your children and be the kind of parent you want to be.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and it is impacting your parenting time or custody rights with your child, please contact us to speak with one of our qualified attorneys experienced in New Jersey family and custody law. Take the first step. Call us today: 888-888-0919.