Incorporating a Safety Plan into Your Parenting Plan in Georgia: When You Need It and What to Include
Having both parents play an active role in a child’s life is important to the child’s success and development. Additionally, the quality of parent/child relationships is largely dependent on having an adequate amount of time to develop and nurture primary relationships, according to Psychology Today.
However, when a parent struggles with drug or alcohol problems, the question becomes how to have parenting time while still protecting the safety of your child. Read on to learn when you should incorporate safety provisions in your parenting plan and what type of language you can use.
When to Include a Safety Plan in Your Parenting Plan
Georgia law requires that cases involving child custody have a parenting plan prepared, which can be prepared by each parent individually or by the parents jointly. While some counties in Georgia have standard templates for these plans, Georgia family courts allow parents to draft agreements with provisions specialized to address their family’s unique needs and circumstances. . These are often prepared by knowledgeable family and custody lawyers who are familiar with the legal requirements but who can also tailor a legal agreement based on the specific circumstances surrounding the family.
A safety plan may be necessary when there is a history or drug or alcohol abuse with one of the parents and a parent is concerned that there will be a relapse that may negatively impact the child. By incorporating a safety plan into your parenting plan, you can help maintain a meaningful parent/child relationship without compromising your child’s health or safety.
Provisions to Consider
Each Georgia family law case is different, so the particular provisions you might need in your plan may be different than those of another family. Some provisions you may want to consider include:
Alcohol and Drug Evaluation
At the beginning of your plan, you may want to include language that requires the parent with a drug or alcohol dependence problem to undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation, which is a professional evaluation conducted by a substance abuse expert. This evaluation can help determine the gravity and degree of the addiction. It can also establish a plan for treatment. Treatment for someone who has not taken drugs or alcohol for several years will likely be much different than for someone who has had a recent relapse.
Your parenting plan may state that the other parent must follow the recommended treatment plan. This provision gives you the advantage of tasking a third party with the responsibility to treat the parent and takes you outside the role of having to personally monitor progress.
Alcohol or Drug Monitoring
One of the most important provisions your safety plan may include is a provision regarding ongoing alcohol or drug monitoring. The parenting plan may indicate that the parent with the substance abuse problem must not consume any alcohol or drugs while the child is in their care and not within a certain number of hours leading up to a visit. If the parent fails to follow these rules, he or she should be subject to consequences the parents agree upon ahead of time, such as a loss of the visit or the requirement to undergo supervised visitation for a certain period of time.
Programs like Soberlink can provide alcohol monitoring through wireless technology. The user conducts a breathalyzer test and the results of the test are uploaded to a server where the other parent, his or her Buckhead family lawyer, or the court can look at the results.
Drug monitoring is a little more complicated. However, you may be able to include language in your plan that says you can request a random drug test if you have reasonable suspicion that the other parent was recently using drugs. The other parent would have to submit to a random drug test and may lose parenting time if he or she tests positive or refuses to test.
Implementation of Provisions
You may also want to include language in your safety plan about when visits will be lost or become supervised due to suspected drug or alcohol use. For example, your plan may state that you can implement these consequences if:
- You receive a report from Soberlink or a similar service of a positive test;
- The other parent is arrested for DUI or a drug charge;
- A reliable third party witnessed intoxication or drug use and reported it to you; or
- The other parent is obviously inebriated or under the influence.
Resumption of Visitation
If parenting time was suspended or made to be supervised, your safety plan should also indicate when it should go back to normal. For example, it may state that the other parent must stay sober for a certain amount of time or test negatively a certain number of times before normal visits will resume.
Your child’s safety and well-being. is the most important part of a parenting plan. If you need to reevaluate or modify your child custody agreement in Atlanta or you are just embarking upon your divorce and child custody journey, remember, you are not alone! This can be a confusing time in your life, but professional help is available. The Atlanta child custody lawyers at Buckhead Family Law are here to assist you with your case and help this be a positive turning point for your family. Schedule a consultation by calling at 404-600-1403.