This is the second post in our series on the handling of an Orange County, California child custody cases which involve illegal drug use on the part of a parent. Our last article provided an overview of topics we will be discussing and stressed the need to contact an attorney if you find yourself facing such a situation. It is important to contact a lawyer sooner rather than later. In this post we will address another important topic – the process one can expect when changing custody due to a parent’s use or abuse of controlled substances. Understanding this process will help you know what questions to ask when selecting counsel to handle your case.
Orange County parents who suspect drug use can file a “Request for Order” with the Court to change child custody
The first step in requesting a change of child custody is to file a “Request for Order (RFO)” with the Court. This is a formal document in which one states what they are requesting and why that request should be granted. In most circumstances, when requesting a change of child custody a parent has to show that there has been a change of circumstances since the Court’s last ruling and that the child’s best interests are served by the proposed change. The change of circumstances is obvious if a parent has been abusing drugs since the Court’s last Order. Also, it is obviously in the child’s best interest to not be in the care of a parent who is abusing controlled substances.
Once your RFO has been filed with the Court then a hearing date will be set. It is possible to request that the hearing be held on an expedited basis. When there are allegations of drug abuse then Courts will often grant such a request and hold the hearing within weeks, rather than months. The Judge may require that the responding parent take an immediate drug test, depending on the evidence presented in the requesting party’s RFO. The Judge may also change custody, on a temporary basis, and set a trial date at which it will be determined whether the modifications should be permanent. Whether the Judge issues a temporary modification will depend on the extent to which the requesting parent has demonstrated the likelihood of drug abuse. It is strongly suggested that Orange County parents facing this process be represented by counsel.
An Orange County child custody attorney can assist you if you believe the other parent is abusing drugs
It is important to understand that the burden of proof is on the parent who is requesting a change of custody. This means that if you make the request, and do not support your claim with sufficient evidence, then the Court may deny it outright. Our Orange County child custody attorneys have extensive experience in such matters. An experienced lawyer can identify which arguments the Court is likely to entertain, which it will disregard, and what is reasonable relief under a given set of circumstances. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.
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