Shielding Children from the Impact of a Parent’s Addiction

For most, filing for divorce may seem like the only option in order to protect children from the actions of a parent who is abusing drugs or alcohol. However, you do have other options that can preserve the family structure.

If your spouse is not neglecting the needs or inflicting any physical abuse on the children due to their addiction, talk to your attorney about filing a petition with the court restricting access to the children. The petition, called a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR), will allow the court to intervene and determine what is in the best interest of the children.

Under a SAPCR, the court has wide latitude to make any order that is in the children’s best interest. This can include requiring routine testing, formal counseling, and even treatment. For example, the court might restrict a parent’s ability to attend school events or to drive the children anywhere until any substance abuse issues are addressed. Although there is no forced compliance, failure to comply will severely impair parental rights and access the children.

Ultimately, it will be up to the individual to not only address their addiction, but also save both the marriage and their relationship with their children, but a SAPCR can provide everyone the time and security needed to focus on recovery and healing.