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Navigating Shared Custody with a Partner in Recovery from Addiction

Written on August 28, 2023
Navigating Shared Custody with a Partner in Recovery from Addiction

Dealing with shared custody can be a challenging endeavor, requiring patience, understanding, and open communication. When a partner is on the path to recovery from addiction, the complexities of shared custody with a teenager can become even more intricate. Balancing the needs of both parents while prioritizing the teen’s well-being is paramount. Here, we delve into strategies for effectively managing shared custody in the context of a partner’s substance abuse recovery.


Prioritize the Teenager’s Best Interest

The well-being of the teen must always take precedence. When one parent is in recovery from addiction, it is essential to create an environment that is stable, safe, and nurturing. Courts often focus on the best interests of the teen when determining custody arrangements. Collaboratively develop a custody plan that provides the teenager with consistency and support from both parents.


Communicate Clearly 

Open and transparent communication is the cornerstone of successfully managing shared custody. Both parents should communicate regularly about the kid’s schedule, needs, and any changes that might impact the custody arrangement. For a partner in recovery, honest communication about their progress, challenges, and any potential triggers is crucial to building trust.


Remain Consistent 

Teenagers thrive on routine and stability. Aim to maintain a consistent custody schedule that accommodates both parents’ needs while ensuring the teenager has a predictable routine. This predictability can be particularly reassuring for someone whose parent is navigating the challenges of addiction recovery.


Flexibility and Adaptability

While consistency is important, life is unpredictable, and circumstances can change. Be prepared to show flexibility and adaptability when necessary. A partner in recovery may face setbacks or unexpected triggers, and adjustments to the custody plan might be required. Being understanding and willing to adapt demonstrates empathy and support.


Set Boundaries

Healthy boundaries are vital for all parties involved. Establish clear guidelines about parental responsibilities, visitation schedules, and expectations. If substance abuse has been an issue in the past, establish protocols to ensure the teen’s safety and the parent’s ongoing recovery progress.


Professional Mediation

In cases where communication becomes challenging or emotions run high, seeking the assistance of a professional mediator can be immensely helpful. The Boulder family law attorneys at Dolan + Zimmerman suggest that a mediator can facilitate discussions, ensure both parties are heard, and guide the creation of a custody plan that aligns with the teen’s best interests.


Encourage a Supportive Network

Recovery from addiction is a journey that requires a strong support network. Encourage your partner to engage with their support group, therapist, or sponsor. An active support system can help your partner manage stressors and triggers effectively, reducing the likelihood of relapse and creating a healthier environment for shared custody.


Focus on Self-Care

Both parents need to prioritize their own well-being. Caring for oneself physically and emotionally is vital for being the best parent possible. Encourage your partner to engage in self-care practices that promote their recovery and emotional resilience.


Avoid Blame and Judgment

Dealing with addiction is a complex challenge that often involves feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse. Avoid placing blame or passing judgment on your partner. Instead, focus on understanding and empathy, which can foster a healthier co-parenting relationship.


Reassess as Needed

As time goes on, circumstances and individuals can change. Regularly reassess the custody arrangement to ensure it remains in the kid’s best interest. If your partner’s recovery progresses positively, it might be possible to adjust the custody arrangement to reflect their increased stability.


Be Considerate Of Their Recovery Process

Sometimes, an individual may have certain wreckage from their past that they’re in the process of clearing before they can move over. It’s important to be patient during this time and give them the space they need. In some instances, they may need to meet with their criminal defense lawyer for legal issues, attend a substance abuse meeting, or do other things suggested by their mentors. Keep an open mind and be open to working with them if they have a tricky schedule.  

Shared custody when one partner is in recovery from addiction requires sensitivity, patience, and a commitment to the teenager’s well-being. With empathy, understanding, and a shared commitment to your teen’s future, you can create a positive and stable co-parenting environment that supports both recovery and a thriving family life. For more information on substance abuse treatment, or referrals to other support, call us for a no-cost consultation.