Father and Daughter ArgueIt is natural for divorced parents to disagree on a variety of parenting philosophies. For many parents who have primary custody, it is nerve wracking when it is time for their children to go visit their noncustodial parent for the summer. You may worry about whether or not your child will be supervised appropriately. Divorced spouses often have a turbulent history and many parents are unsure of whether or not their worries are unfounded. Our last post discussed how a child’s marijuana use can become the catalyst of a new custody fight. In this post we will discuss what to do if you suspect your child is smoking marijuana while in the custody of their other parent, and if it is appropriate to contact an attorney.

Virginia Courts are unlikely to take custody away from a parent who is properly addressing a child’s drug use

If your child is using drugs while in the custody of another parent then the first thing that must be determined is whether or not the child’s marijuana use is a result of poor supervision. Honestly consider if your child has a history of drug use before jumping to blame the other parent. If marijuana has been a problem while the child has been in your custody as well, then it may be difficult to justify taking away the other parent’s visitation. Virginia Courts will be most concerned with what the other parent is doing to address the problem. Child custody and visitation rights will not be taken away from a parent who is providing reasonable supervision, discipline, and addressing any behavior problems the child has. If your child has a history of using marijuana, then in most cases the appropriate action to take is to coordinate discipline efforts with your ex-spouse. In the event your child is spiraling out of control, a custody battle will not fix the problem. Family counseling, co-parenting courses, and agreed upon rules and punishments are more appropriate than turning to attorneys.

Virginia Courts will take custody away when a parent is acting negligently

Calling an attorney is appropriate if and when you suspect that the other parent is acting in a negligent manner. If the child is left alone frequently with no supervision, and there is clear evidence that the child has been using drugs, the Court may find reason to make a change to custody rights. The Court will also be concerned if the parent is smoking marijuana in the presence of the child, or providing the child an opportunity to use drugs. As marijuana is not legal in Virginia, the Court will not tolerate drug use in the home.

If you believe your child is engaging in marijuana use while staying with their noncustodial parent, the first step is to make a reasonable attempt to solve the matter privately whenever possible. When co-parenting is not possible, and you believe your child’s safety is in danger, it may be necessary to contact an experienced family law attorney. Our next post will discuss the legal process of requesting an emergency change in custody. If you currently are worried about your child smoking marijuana while in the custody of their other parent, contact our office today.