Dealing With Alcoholic Spouse in a Custody Battle

Reader’s Question

I’m in the middle of a custody battle where my baby’s father is an alcoholic and the judge just awarded him joint custody. What evidence can I present to the court that he is not suitable for joint custody given his excessive drinking?

Psychologist’s Reply

To change a custody award, you must present evidence that he is an incompetent parent. You would probably need supportive evidence that he is incapable of providing proper supervision, childcare, or a healthy environment. Your attorney will be your best source of support and information in these areas.

If the father is alcoholic, his priority is probably alcohol rather than the child. In divorce situations, an alcoholic partner will frequently fight for joint custody, often in an attempt to avoid or minimize child support awards (at least in the US). Sadly, however, they may have little interest in having custody of the child as parenting often interferes with their drinking. The alcoholic parent then develops a pattern of passing the children to their relatives during their custody times. The child then lives with the grandparents during the father’s custody times. When this happens frequently, you may have additional evidence to return to court for a change in the custody award.

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