Substance abuse is a common reason that many marriages end. One spouse becomes addicted to a particular substance and it slowly poisons the marriage until one of the partners is unable to stay. This sad story plays out time and again all over the country. If you are engaged in a child custody dispute and the other spouse is a current or former drug abuser, it is highly likely to influence the courts determinations.
When the court is determining custody arrangements, it considers what is in the best interests of the children. If it is substantiated that the other parent is a substance abuser, it is highly likely the court will find that that parent is unfit to care for the children. But the door is rarely permanently closed. Usually, the court will allow the parent to enter into a rehabilitation program and upon proof of successful completion, will impose some sort of limited visitation schedule.
The nature of the visitation will depend on the facts and circumstances of the divorce and drug abuse. But it is unlikely the court will immediately order joint custody, instead the court will limit the orders to visitation.
If you are engaged in a child custody dispute with your former spouse, you may want to consider arguing for sole custody if the other parent is a substance abuser. Sole custody scares a lot of people but it simply ensures that you are able to protect your children when their other parent is unable to care for them. The court and you can still allow them to see the other parent on a visitation schedule once he or she is better.