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Modifying Your Florida Parenting Plan Because Your Child’s Other Parent is Abusing Alcohol and/or Drugs

For most any parent, the best interest of their child is paramount in their mind. This concern can take on a whole other level of intensity if your child’s other parent is experiencing problems with alcohol or drug abuse. If your ex is having difficulty with drinking or drugs and you think that it is impacting her/his parenting of your child, you have options in Florida. These options may include, among other things, suspended timesharing, supervised visitation or substance use monitoring. The key is to make sure that your have amassed the evidence you need and then develop the sort legal arguments required to obtain the modification that will help your family. To make sure you have a persuasive case for modification, be sure to consult an experienced Miami family law attorney.

An example of this type of scenario was the recent case of two Miami-Dade parents, J.N.R. and T.R. Originally, as part of the divorce, the mother, J.N.R., had received unsupervised visitation with the couple’s four-year-old daughter. However, the mother allegedly had ongoing problems with drug and alcohol use. Based on that alleged problem, the father went back to court and obtained what’s called a “post-judgment order.” That order from the judge said that the mother’s unsupervised visitation was suspended. The judge also ordered the mother to undergo substance abuse evaluation and treatment, as well as to obtain and wear an ankle monitoring device that electronically reported if the mother used alcohol. The judge ordered that the mother pay for all of this on her own.

The mother appealed that order, arguing that the trial judge made legal errors both in suspending unsupervised visitation and making her pay for the substance treatment and monitoring expenses.

The father won on appeal, largely because he had presented ample evidence to allow the trial judge to rule as he did. When it comes to domestic and family-related disputes, you may associate private investigators assignments looking for proof of a partner’s infidelity. However, private investigators can do more than just that, and they can sometimes unearth very important evidence in your family law case. In this situation, the trial judge heard from a private investigator who had found empty champagne bottles and prescription drug bottles in the mother’s trash outside her home, which was also where she had her timesharing with the daughter. This evidence that the mother was still drinking and taking drugs, and doing that activity in the home where she had timesharing with the daughter, was enough to warrant suspension of unsupervised visitation, according to the appeals court.

The court also ruled against the mother when it came to ordering her to paying for the costs of substance treatment and monitoring. Other Florida appeals courts had ruled in the past that, in situations where a parent is restricted to supervised visitation, the cost of the supervision counted as a child support expense. The expenses at issue in this case, while they were ordered at the same time as the judge took away the mother’s unsupervised visitation, were not costs of supervision. These expenses were costs, not of supervision, but costs related to the mother’s “violation of prior agreed orders.” That was different and the judge was permitted to make the mother pay for that on her own without any child support credit.

Whether your divorce issue is custody, visitation, child support or something unrelated to children, Miami family law attorney Sara Saba is ready to help. Attorney Saba has been providing helpful representation for her clients for more than 13 years. Our team is dedicated solely to meeting your family law needs. Contact us online or by calling (305) 450-8009 to schedule your consultation. Hablamos Español.

More blog posts:

What Happens When You and Your Child’s Other Florida-Based Parent are Hopelessly Deadlocked in Making an Important Child Welfare Decision?, Miami Divorce Lawyer Blog, Aug. 6, 2018

How to Go About Resuming Unrestricted Timesharing with Your Child Following a Florida Court Order of Supervised Visitation, Miami Divorce Lawyer Blog, June 29, 2018