Your ex shows up to pick up your child for visitation and is obviously impaired by drugs or alcohol. You are convinced of the danger of sending your child in a vehicle with someone who can barely remain on two feet. But you think about the court orders in place. Now you feel that you are between a rock and a hard place. Let them go = risk to safety. Keep them home = risk that you are violating court orders.
You are not required to put your child in harm's way! It is your job to keep them safe. However, the situation may not be clear-cut. You may not be able to tell whether or not your ex-spouse is still drinking or is impaired, and you probably won't always be there to witness what is going on.
If you live with this kind of stress, here are a few things that may help:
- Control what you can control. During a divorce or modification you have some power. Talk to your attorney, the mediator or the judge in the case about inserting specific language in the final court order that prohibits your ex from drinking at specific times. ("within 24 hours prior to visitation and during visitation", as one example).
- Get witnesses when you can, other than your children. If the witness is a friend of yours, yes, she is partial to you, but at least there is another person who can vouch for you. KEEP A JOURNAL of dates, times, and events. This will be very valuable to you in the future if you have to file a court action.
- Involve the police when indicated. If your ex has peeled out of the driveway, creating a hazard to others, consider calling for police assistance, or if your children are in danger, get help.
- Have a certified copy of your court orders handy in case you need law enforcement to get involved.
- Know when to ask for help. If you need counseling, support from friends or family or legal assistance, find it! You need to take care of yourself to be there for your children. It is worth your time to have a legal consultation to have your questions answered.
If the prior visitation orders are no longer working for you, it may be time to file for a modification of those orders. Your family law attorney can help guide you.