Drug use and abuse in divorce and child custody cases in Missouri are not new. Courts have heard evidence of drug use and abuse in divorce and child custody cases for years. What is relatively new is the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.
What is medical marijuana?
Most people are familiar with Missouri’s legalization of medical marijuana. The term “medical marijuana” relates to the laws in Missouri that permit licensed doctors to recommend marijuana for medical purposes to patients with serious illnesses and medical conditions. XIV Section 1. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services provides information on how to apply for a medical marijuana card. Department of Health & Senior Services. However, the possession of marijuana without a prescription is still illegal in Missouri. Section 579.015 RSMo.
How does the use of marijuana by a parent affect a divorce or child custody case?
Courts still can consider a parent’s use of marijuana in divorce and child custody in Missouri. There is no law that prohibits a judge from considering a parent’s use of marijuana in a divorce or child custody case, including a parent’s use of medical marijuana. There are rules for the use of medical marijuana. Is a person following those rules? Or is a parent abusing his or her marijuana prescription?
There may also be evidence of marijuana use by a parent without a prescription. Each person’s divorce or child custody case is unique to those people or that family. Judges decide each case on the evidence presented at trial. There is no one-size-fits-all rule that applies to each case where there is evidence of marijuana use. Circumstances vary in each case, including whether a parent uses marijuana for his or her own personal use, whether a parent grows or sells marijuana, how the marijuana use affects a parent, and most importantly, how the use of marijuana affects the parent’s ability to care for the health, education, and welfare of a child.
How can the use of other drugs affect a divorce or child custody case?
Drug use or drug abuse is not limited to marijuana. A parent’s use of cocaine heroin, methamphetamine, pills, and synthetic drugs can be presented in court. Judges in divorce and child custody in Missouri will be concerned with the use of these drugs, particularly in child custody cases. Reports exist of people who have died from the use of heroin. People who have attempted to produce methamphetamine create a risk of fire or explosion which creates a risk of harm to a child. And of course, the use of drugs can affect a parent’s ability to actually parent and care for a child. The parent who does not use or abuse controlled substances generally has the better argument to obtain custody of a child.
Do I have any chance of keeping custody of my children if I use drugs?
Yes. But, not without a change in lifestyle. There are ways that a parent can redeem themselves to improve his or her argument to maintain or obtain child custody.
Contact Scott Hamblin for more information regarding divorce and child custody in Mid-Missouri.
Scott Hamblin earned his juris doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law in 1999. Scott concentrates in his practice in the areas of divorce, child custody, and family law, and federal and state criminal defense and personal injury law.