Substance Abuse Divorce and Child Custody

The Rocky Mountain Family Lawyers are Denver’s award-winning family law trial advocates.  We’re experts in divorce and child custody cases involving substance abuse in Denver and other cities throughout Colorado.  

Call us today to talk personally with a lawyer about your Denver divorce and child custody substance abuse issues.  (303) 502-9600.


Alcohol and Drug Use and Family Law in Colorado:

Drugs and alcohol can significantly alter the mental state of the user.  If a parent is abusing alcohol or drugs it raises serious concerns over whether that parent is competent to parent a child.   The issue is relevant in divorce cases, dependency and neglect matters, and cases involving the allocation of parental responsibilities (aka “child custody” cases).

Marijuana Use and the Family Law

In November 2000, Colorado voters approved a measure legalizing marijuana for people with certain medical conditions.  In 2012, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, allowing all people over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow up to six plants in their home.

In the first published case involving marijuana use by a parent, a number of factors, including marijuana use, led to a finding that the mother was unfit to be a parent.  In another early case, the court ordered that the father’s parenting time be supervised until he could demonstrate his marijuana use was not detrimental to the child.  The decision was reversed on appeal because the lower court had failed to conduct a hearing to establish whether the father’s use of marijuana constituted endangerment to the child’s physical health or risked impairing her emotional development.

Testing for Drugs

Drug testing may be ordered, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 35, upon the following showing:

  1. A controversy exists as to the mental or physical condition of the person to be tested;
  2. Good cause for the testing is shown;
  3. The person to be examined as well as other interested parties are provided proper notice.

Drug tests results are regularly admitted as evidence in domestic relations cases.  Any concerns about admissibility can be resolved by calling the party conducting the test as a witness and making a proper record of the chain of custody.

Testing Related to Prescription Drug or Marijuana Dependency

Even if a parent is found to have a drug in his or her system, its presence does not mean the parent is dependent on the drug. The court may need additional evidence including mental health details, employment history, driving records and evidence of prior drug dependency. Expert testimony may be needed to prove that drug use impairs a parent’s skills so as to endanger the child.

When Substance Abuse Causes Restrictions on Parenting Time

Under Colo. Rev. Stat. §14-10-129, the court will not restrict parenting time in Colorado unless it finds that the parent’s drug use may endanger the child’s physical health or significantly harm the child’s emotional development. If endangerment is proven, parenting time may be supervised or suspended until the parent completes a drug treatment program or submits a negative drug test.

Hire an Attorney in Alcohol and Drug Use Cases in Colorado

The Rocky Mountain Family Lawyers are experts in Colorado substance abuse as it impacts divorce and child custody cases. 

Call us now to discuss your legal options and rights concerning substance abuse in divorce or child custody cases in Denver, Colorado and surrounding cities (303) 502-9600.


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