This is the next post in a series of articles discussing changes in child custody resulting from parental drug use in Dayton, Ohio. The previous post reviewed what to expect when a custody change case proceeds to trial. During the trial, both parents are given the opportunity to present objective evidence to the judge supporting their respective positions. Ultimately, the judge will decide whether any temporary or permanent changes in custody are in the child’s best interest. This post will focus specifically on cases involving a parent’s use of marijuana or prescription drugs and the potential impact on child custody matters. If you need assistance with a child custody dispute, contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
When a parent believes that their counterpart’s use of marijuana or prescription drugs is detrimental to their child, it is possible to seek a change in the child’s current custody arrangement. To do so, the requesting parent must file a Motion to Change Custody with the court. The evidence presented in this Motion must be new information, representing a change in circumstances from information previously heard by the court. That is, if the parent’s drug use has just come to light or has become significantly worse than before, the judge will likely allow the Motion to go forward. Evidence of drug use that impairs a parent’s ability to care for a child is often considered adequate grounds for a change in custody. It is important to note, however, that courts often approach matters involving marijuana or other prescription drugs differently than when illegal “hard drugs,” such as heroin or heroin are involved.
Possessing or using hard drugs is a criminal offense. When a parent engages in this activity in the presence of a child, it will often be considered grounds for emergency custody modification. Marijuana or prescription drug use, on the other hand, is not necessarily illegal under Ohio law and may, therefore, be viewed differently by family law judges. While recreational marijuana use is not yet legal in Ohio, the state has authorized the use of marijuana to treat certain specified medical conditions. Similarly, it is not against the law to validly possess and use prescription medication. When a physician has validly prescribed pills for pain relief, for example, a person’s use of the substance in accordance with the directions will not likely be grounds to reduce their parental rights or access to their child. It is possible, however, to abuse legally obtained substances in a manner that results in impairment or the inability to provide appropriate care for a child. It is also possible for a parent to obtain marijuana or prescription drugs illegally. In cases where the parent’s drug use is endangering the child, either because of neglect or criminal activity in the child’s presence, the court may order a custody change. In especially dangerous situations, the judge may grant an emergency change pending further investigation of the issue.
When seeking a modification in child custody as a result of a parent’s use of marijuana or prescription medication, it will be essential to share as much objective evidence of the activity with the court as possible. If your child is in immediate danger, contact law enforcement. Otherwise, we recommend consulting with an attorney prior to starting the legal process to help organize and present the evidence in an effective manner. Contact our office today to speak with a Dayton child custody lawyer. We also serve the areas of Beavercreek, Centerville, Clayton, Eaton, Englewood, Fairborn, Franklin, Harrison Township, Huber Heights, Kettering, Oakwood, Lebanon, Miami Township, Miamisburg, Piqua, Riverside, Springboro, Springfield, Tipp City, Trotwood, Troy, Vandalia, Waynesville, Washington Township, West Carrollton, Yellow Springs, and Xenia.