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Help for PA parents with opioid addiction, custody possible

Co-parenting is common among single parents or those who share joint-custody after a divorce. As many may already be aware, opioid addiction is a real problem in Pennsylvania and across the country. Drug addiction can steal everything from a person, including custody of their child. State agencies have and will continue to step in to ensure that opioid addiction does not tear apart anymore families.

Based on Westmoreland County Children's Bureau's most recent statistics, drug abuse is connected with instances of child abuse. Specifically, 19 percent of the total thousands of child abuse allegations are connected with drug abuse, according to a 2015 report from the state Department of Human Services. According to specialists who deal with these cases on a daily basis, a parent's substance abuse results in loss of custody in 30 to 40 percent of cases.

Sometimes this loss of child custody is temporary and sometimes it is permanent. Either way, this can be a stressful and emotional time for the family. Family courts agree that it is usually in a child's best interest to be away from their parents. However, a drug-addicted parent can often not care for a child's best interests and thus cannot be a suitable care-taker for the child - hence the loss of custody drug addicted parents can experience.

If one parent has been abusing drugs and has become a danger to themselves and the child it is very possible the other parent or a family member could be appointed full legal custody as well as physical custody. To add fuel to the fire, oftentimes drug-abuse can be a contributing factor in a divorce. Divorce proceedings will look at a child's custody situation and what is in the best interests of the child and thus a parent's behavior can and will be scrutinized at this time.

Source: triblive.com, "Pennsylvania focuses on helping opioid-addicted parents kick habit, keep their children," Rignatta Signorini, March 18, 2017

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Haller & Imbarlina, P.C.
20120 Route 19, Suite 208
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