Reconsidering Shared Custody

Most divorces are messy and when children are involved there’s the added strain of custody arrangements. Once it’s all sorted out and you’ve gotten used to a routine, what happens when your ex-husband causes you to question whether or not you should reconsider shared custody? Today in her legal segment Love Court on the Alice 96.5 Morning Show, Jessica Anderson talks all about possible options to consider. 

The Context

A divorced woman, who we’ll call Stacy, wrote to Jessica seeking legal advice as she is now reconsidering her shared custody arrangement with her ex-husband, let’s call him TC. While still married, the two had a daughter together who is now 13 years old, and they have shared custody since their divorce five years ago. Stacy explained that TC is a major alcoholic and though he has gone to rehab and had periods of long sobriety in the past, he has also relapsed many times. 

Stacy recently heard that he’s drinking again and is considering returning to court to change custody. Though she knows how much the daughter loves her father and is worried about him when they’re apart, she fears for the child’s safety. Stacy’s now wondering how she can protect her daughter and if going back to court really is her best or only option. 

The Response

Jessica agreed that it was indeed a tough situation. She started by highlighting the fact that the daughter worries about the dad when she’s not with him which she identified as a sign of codependency. She noted that this is a typical dynamic in relationships with alcoholics where the other person’s mood depends on that of the alcoholic. 

She advised that Stacy should get her daughter in therapy to help deal with the issue because she mentioned that it is not normal for little children to be worried about their parents. She then went on to give additional words of advice. 

Considering a Custody Time Out

Drawing on what she has witnessed with respect to teenagers in recent court orders, she recommended considering a custody timeout.  Basically, the child is allowed to judge the situation themselves, assess the level of safety and request to go to the house of the other parents if necessary. In this case, even if it’s TC’s time with his daughter, she can request to go to Stacy’s house if she ever feels uncomfortable or unsafe and vice versa. 

Though recommended, Jessica mentioned that she personally didn’t like those types of provisions as they place too much responsibility on the child to make the appropriate call.  

Settling the Matter Outside of Court 

Given Stacy’s concern about whether or not returning to the court is the only way to settle this matter, Jessica offered yet another suggestion. It involves getting TC to agree to a program such as Sober Link or Sober 24, so an agreement can be made which will then become a court order. In that way, they won’t have to go inside a courtroom as it can be done with the help of a lawyer.

Don’t Lose Hope

Even in the midst of such a difficult situation, Jessica finds it refreshing to know that there are many options for people with serious addictions to still maintain a relationship with their children once they are willing to be monitored and work to provide a safe environment for their kids. 

Need More Information? 

Was this your question and you need more information? Or perhaps you or someone you know may be in a similar situation to the one mentioned above and requires further details. If so, feel free to set up a consultation with Jessica by calling 775-823-0049.