This is the next post in our series on the handling of Boston, Massachusetts child custody cases which involve drug use by a parent. Our last article discussed the importance of discovery in child custody matters. Discovery is important due to the fact that it can assist a parent in establishing that their counterpart has engaged in a prolonged pattern of substance abuse. Establishing such facts can bolster requests for a more permanent change of custody. Discovery is a complicated process and it is suggested that you retain an experienced attorney to assist you. In this article we will discuss what to expect from the trial process. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance then contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
Trial in such matters will begin with opening statements from each of the parents’ respective attorneys. Opening statements are not a time for argument. Instead, this is when counsel for each side will proffer the evidence which the Court should expect to hear. Counsel will also state the relief that is being requested. The parent who is requesting the custody modification will then present their witnesses and evidence. The responding parent will follow by presenting their case. The requesting parent will then present “rebuttal” evidence. Rebuttal is not a time to raise new arguments. It is only an opportunity for the requesting parent to directly refute any claims made by the defense. Each side will then make their closing arguments The Court will issue its final decision following trial or shortly thereafter. The parties must realize that such matters will be decided by the Judge, and not a jury, as Family Court only utilizes bench trials.
Cases which involve drug use will revolve around two issues. First, the parent who is requesting the change must establish that the offending parent is posing a danger to the child. Evidence of such a danger can include failed drug tests, police records, and more. Other evidence of the offending parent’s lack of fitness can include proof of their living conditions, bank records, etc. Second, it is necessary for the requesting parent to establish that they can provide a safe and stable environment for the child. This means it will be necessary to show proof of a stable residence, of an environment which will encourage the child to do well in school, of stable employment, etc. How the Court will rule in any given circumstance will always depend on the specific facts of the case. It is strongly suggested that you discuss your situation with an attorney to fully understand your options.
If you believe that your child’s other parent is abusing drugs then contact our office today to speak with a Boston child custody lawyer. We devote a substantial portion of our practice to domestic relations law and we will give your case the attention it deserves. Our firm prides itself on providing the highest level of service and, if your matter involves an emergency, we will immediately file any necessary Motions with the Court. Contact us today. We also assist Massachusetts residents in the Middlesex County cities of Cambridge, Lowell, Somerville, and Newton, as well as those in the cities of Worcester, Brockton, Quincy, and Lynn.