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Child custody is an incredibly complex and delicate issue. When it comes to custody, New Jersey courts will work to do what is in the child’s best interest. Generally, this means having a relationship with both parents, but this is not always possible. If a parent is deemed unfit, he or she may lose custody. Losing custody can be devastating for both a parent and child, but it does not have to be permanent. Read on to learn more about how substance abuse can impact your custody agreement.

How is Custody Determined?

When a court is making a decision about child custody, they will examine the following factors:

  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • If the parent will act in the child’s best interest
  • The stability each parent can provide the child
  • Whether or not the parents are willing to accept custody
  • What the child needs
  • The child’s safety
  • History of abuse
  • Both parents’ fitness
  • The geographical proximity of both parents’ homes
  • The preference of the child if they are of sufficient age

Why do Parents Lose Custody?

Some reasons that parents will not be awarded custody, or will lose their custody rights include:

  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse of the child
  • Mental/emotional abuse of the child
  • Domestic violence
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Child abduction
  • Unwillingness to co-parent

How Does Substance Abuse Affect Custody?

If a New Jersey court finds that you are struggling with substance abuse, you may lose custody of your child. That being said, there is a good chance that you will still have visitation rights. Additionally, losing custody does not have to be permanent. If you have lost custody, it is for a reason, so addressing this reason and proving that it is no longer an issue will be necessary. For example, if you lost custody due to drug abuse, you may need to partake in a program to combat drug use. It is important to remember to be patient, work with your attorney, and follow all court orders. A family law attorney can help you through the process.

If you have lost custody, our firm is here to help. We will advocate for you and walk you through the process every step of the way.


Here at McNerney & McAuliffe, we understand how confusing certain legal matters can be, which is why we are here to provide clients from all walks of life with the experienced, compassionate legal guidance they need. If you require the legal assistance of an attorney to help you through a criminal law matter, personal injury matter, family law matter, or otherwise, you can turn to us. Contact McNerney & McAuliffe today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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