Can a parent be denied custody and/ or visitation with a newborn if he or she has a substance abuse problem?
Substance abuse issues are one of the most hotly litigated issues in the family court when it comes to custody and visitation of children. A person who tests positive for the use of illegal drugs or non prescribed drugs will not be permitted to be left alone with a child in almost all situations.
Regardless of the age of the child, a mother or father will not be permitted unsupervised visitation or custody of a minor child if they have a substance abuse problem. If this issue is brought to the court’s attention, parents will be required to provide analysis of hair follicle drug tests or liver enzyme tests (for alcohol). It is common for the judges to engage the involvement of Social Services when both parents have tested positive.
Even a newborn child will be taken from a drug or alcohol dependent mother until such time as the mother can prove she is drug free. Cannabis, which is becoming increasingly legal throughout the US, will also very likely result in an adverse custody ruling for a parent who tests positive in South Carolina.
A question for family court practitioners is what to do with a parent who uses cannabis where it is legal during a vacation or business trip, and then tests positive upon his or her return drug to South Carolina? I’ll let you know as soon as I hear!