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Substance abuse can play a role in child custody proceedings

Substance abuse is all too common across our country, including here in Washington. While drug issues can wreak havoc on an individual's life, substance abuse can also have a ripple effect that touches nearly every aspect of an abuser's life. This includes their children, which is why substance abuse issues often come up in the context of child custody disputes.

Of course, all matters pertaining to child custody and visitation are disposed of with the child's best interests in mind. This holds true for substance abuse issues, too. Therefore, parents who are dealing with a child custody dispute may benefit from putting forth evidence of another parent's drug usage and the effects that it has or might have on one's child.

The effects of parental substance abuse on a child are wide-ranging, too. To start, parental substance abuse creates a chaotic home environment where family roles are often reversed. This means that children are sometimes left carrying parental responsibilities, including caring for siblings. These stressors can contribute to mental health disorders in children, too. They may develop severe anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and even an increased risk of suicide. Children of substance abusers often suffer at school and develop emotional problems, such as insecurity, shame, fear, mistrust, and lack of respect for others. Exposure to drug use in a parent's home can also increase the risk of a child becoming a substance abuser him or herself.

All of this is to say that drug issues need to be taken seriously, especially when it affects children. However, to effectively present evidence of substance abuse and how it affects a child, Washington residents may want to work closely with a legal professional who knows how to present these types of cases to a family law judge.

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