Protecting Your Children When Your Co-Parent is a Drug Addict
Last week Terry Gross, of Fresh Air on public radio, interviewed Eileen Zimmerman, whose recently-published memoir Smacked: A Story of White Collar Ambition, Addiction and Tragedy shares the aftermath of her having found her ex-husband dead in his home as a result of his drug addiction. Peter was a “high-powered lawyer,” and at the time he died they shared custody of their two children, who were 16 and 18 years old.
The children lived every other week with their father. Following his death, many of Peter’s often bizarre behaviors made sense to Eileen and the children – for example, extended unexplained absences at night and his refusal to go to the hospital or otherwise seek medical treatment for what he reported as prolonged severe flu-like symptoms. Turns out that, during his custodial time, he was going to multiple ATM machines to get money for drugs, then meeting his
drug dealer, and then getting high before returning home after his teenage children had put themselves to bed.
Because Peter was wealthy and managed to keep up his work as a successful attorney, it never occurred to his ex-wife that he might be abusing drugs. He had received prescriptions for pain medications, and developed an addiction to opiates and cocaine. His death was caused by an infection in the heart, likely the result of his IV drug use.
In Family Court cases we often see parents asking the court to intervene as a result of abuse or neglect of children due to the other parent’s admitted or suspected alcoholism or drug addiction. Judges can enter emergency orders changing custody or suspending visitation if required to prevent neglect or endangerment of the children. Court orders can require that a parent’s visitation be supervised or even suspended until they demonstrate that they have received appropriate treatment and are no longer abusing substances.
If you suspect your co-parent is neglecting the care of your child due to drug or alcohol abuse, you can take steps to protect your child! Talk to an experienced custody attorney about your options. Contact us to schedule a consultation with Ms. Hager.