How Does Substance Abuse Affect Child Custody in New York?

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If you have any questions or concerns about how substance abuse can impact your custody arrangement, read on to learn more.

Types of Custody in New York

Physical custody is awarded to the parent with whom the child will mainly reside. This parent is responsible for providing the child with a home, stability, meals, clothes, and other necessities. As a result, this parent may be entitled to receive child support from the non-custodial parent. In some cases, a couple may decide to share physical custody equally.

If a parent is awarded legal custody, he or she can legally make important decisions about the lives of their child. These decisions may include choices about academics, religion, and medical issues. Legal custody can be awarded to one or both parents and it is not dependent upon physical custody.

In rare cases, if a parent is deemed unfit, the fit parent may be awarded sole custody of the child. This does not happen often, as New York courts believe a child benefits from having a relationship with both parents. This may occur in cases of domestic violence, neglect, substance abuse, and so on. If a parent is not awarded custody, visits may still be able to be arranged.

How is Custody Determined?

When making a decision about custody, a judge will take the following into account:

  • Each party’s ability to provide financially for the child
  • The stability that each parent can provide
  • The ability of the parent to act in their child’s best interests
  • Each party’s relationship with the child
  • Each party’s history of domestic violence and substance/ alcohol abuse
  • Each party’s mental and physical health
  • Each party’s work schedule and lifestyle
  • The health and age of the child
  • The preference of the child, if of sufficient age

Regaining Custody After Losing it Due to Substance Abuse

If you lost custody, it is for a reason. In order to regain custody, you will have to address the issue that caused you to lose custody. For example, if you lost custody due to substance abuse issues, you may need to enroll in an addiction program. You will need the help of an experienced family law attorney. Contact our firm today. We are here to advocate for you and walk you through the process every step of the way.


Peter V. Mandi, Esq. is an experienced divorce and family law attorney located in Bohemia, New York. Our firm understands the impact a divorce can have on your life. If you require strong and dedicated legal representation in Long Island, New York, please do not hesitate to contact Peter V. Mandi & Associates, Inc. today.


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