Parent lecturing teenager. This is the next post in my series on how your child’s marijuana use can impact summertime visitation and custody. My last post addressed what to do if you suspect your child is using drugs while on extended visitation with the noncustodial parent. Today I will be discussing the process of requesting an emergency hearing to change custody while your child is on visitation in another state.

Parents with primary custody of the children must file for an emergency hearing in the state that has jurisdiction over the child

You may feel helpless if your child is currently in another state visiting the non-custodial parent and you suspect he or she is engaging in marijuana use. However, if you believe that your child’s behavior is out of control, it is relatively simple to get the court to take emergency action. The first step is to contact a family law attorney in the state that has jurisdiction over the case. If you are the parent with primary custody and live in Virginia then contact a Virginia child custody attorney. If you live in another state, but your child is currently visiting Norfolk, contact an attorney in your area. The state the noncustodial parent resides will typically not exercise jurisdiction over the child unless the child’s immediate safety is at issue.

Your attorney will then file an emergency motion with the court and a hearing can be scheduled within a few days. The noncustodial parent will often attend the hearing telephonically and may hire an attorney to represent them during the hearing. Your attorney will then present evidence to the court that your child has been using marijuana, and that the drug use could have been prevented by the other parent. Evidence may include statements made by the child, photos posted to the child’s social media page, or witness statements by neighbors or law enforcement who have been in the presence of the child. If your evidence is compelling enough, the judge may order the noncustodial parent to immediately take the teenager to be drug tested with the results being sent to the court. A follow-up hearing will be scheduled once the results are available, and all decisions regarding custody and visitation will be made at that time.

Custodial parent must prove that the parent with visitation has been negligent in their parenting duties

The Court understands that parents cannot always control the behavior of their teenage child. If the parent has taken reasonable steps to supervise and address the child’s behavior then he or she will not necessarily lose their visitation because the child is smoking marijuana. However, if the Court feels that the parent is responsible for the child’s drug use or negligent, then the custodial parent will have a good argument for revoking visitation. Examples the Court would view as negligent behavior would include allowing the child to throw unsupervised parties where drug use has been proven to occur, smoking marijuana with the child, or having marijuana present in the house that the child stolen. In these circumstances, the Judge may revoke extended visitation and require the parent to travel for supervised visits until the concerns of drug use can be addressed.

If you feel that your child is using drugs and is in a dangerous situation, it is important to act fast. If Norfolk has jurisdiction over your family court case, contact our office today.