Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Custody

Drug and/or alcohol abuse can be taken into account in Florida child custody cases. If it is not in the best interest of children to have unsupervised visits with a drug or alcohol addicted parents, the court may order supervised visitation until there is improvement with the parent’s problem. When a parent shows that he or she is managing the addiction, the court can modify a parenting plan, as seen in the case McLendon v. D’Amico, 1D18-2648 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019).

In their 2015 divorce, the parties agreed it was in the best interest of the parties’ children for the father to have supervised visits due to his addiction. A year later, the father petition the court for unsupervised visits, alleging he was sober and that shared custody was in the best interest of the children. After a trial, the court granted the father’s petition and allowed him unsupervised visits.

The mother appealed, arguing the trial court overlooked evidence of the father’s continued struggle with addiction, and that it was not in the children’s best interest to allow unsupervised visits. The appellate court disagreed, holding, “Trial courts are afforded broad discretion in determining custody arrangements. Section 61.13, Florida Statutes, sets out factors for consideration. And here, the court found that those factors supported awarding [the father] unsupervised time-sharing. The court based its findings on, among other things, testimony that [the father] had been sober for three years, remained active in recovery, and was a successful high-school teacher and coach. The court also considered expert testimony that [the father’s] addiction was in remission. Although [the mother] disagrees with the court's findings and points to some contradictory evidence, the findings in the court's detailed order were supported by competent, substantial evidence.”

The trial court’s order was therefore upheld. If drug or alcohol abuse is an issue in your Florida child custody case, contact a Miami family law attorney to assist you with moving forward. A consultation may help you decide what your best defenses and claims are.