Arizona Recreational Marijuana and Co-Parenting

Can Marijuana Use Affect Child Custody In Arizona?

Our Arizona Family Lawyers discuss how recent laws and the use of now legal recreational drugs can impact co-parenting. Therefore, our attorneys feel that you should be mindful of the expectations and responsibilities while co-parenting as even though recreational marijuana may soon be legal, the use of it which leads to reckless or irresponsible behavior can be used against you by the party you are working with to co-parent.

This year, Arizona voters passed Prop 207, which legalizes the possession and use of personal-use marijuana for anyone in the state 21 years and older. Previously, marijuana was only legally available in Arizona to those with a valid medical marijuana card from a medical doctor. These cards were only granted for limited medical conditions. Soon, anyone 21 and older in Arizona will be able to go to a licensed dispensary to purchase recreational marijuana.

Stressed out father on losing child custody for recreational marijuana usage

After splitting up, some parents have an easier time cooperating with each other for the sake of their children. Some can abide by an informal agreement, while others must go through the courts so that there is a valid parenting plan in place. Many custody battles can be dragged out months or years, with the parents trying to convince the judge that the other parent is unfit. Not only does the parenting plan determine how much time the child spends with each parent, but is a factor in calculating who should be paying child support, and how much.

Marijuana and Arizona Custody Cases

Often, parents wage a custody battle to fight for more time with their child. In particularly vitriolic relationships, the parents may be grasping at straws to give the court a reason to award one parent primary custody. Marijuana has been legalized, but many parents try to use involvement with it against the other parent for custody matters.

Obviously, convictions and incarceration for marijuana related crimes, like dealing and trafficking, will decimate that parent’s custody case. However, the marijuana industry has created plenty of legal jobs, like dispensary employees, licensed cultivators, researchers, and more. These jobs are legal, and simply working in one of these positions shouldn’t damage your custody case. Alcohol is a good comparison to marijuana now that it has been legalized- even though alcohol is legal, you could lose custody of your child if you are constantly drunk and post your exploits and alcohol on social media. If you are constantly high, especially while caring for your child, and constantly post marijuana-themed content, this could be used against you.

Custody Factors when using Recreational Drugs in Arizona

Ideally, one parent’s employment in the marijuana industry won’t be a constant point of contention in custody hearings. However, many other factors may come into play when co-parenting and recreational drugs are in the picture.

In Arizona, family law judges analyze the following factors when deciding how custody should be allocated:
Whether the child will need to adapt to a new home, school, etc.

  • The child’s past and present relationship with each parent
  • The child’s relationship with other members of each parent’s household
  • If the child has any special needs, and each parent’s ability to address these needs
  • The physical and mental health of each parent
  • If either parent has committed domestic violence or abuse
  • If either parent has tried to withhold the child from the other parent
  • At a certain age and maturity level, the child’s wishes

**This list is non-exhaustive, and the court will consider other factors if they are relevant to the case.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Co-Parenting when Marijuana is Involved in a Co-parenting Situation

Effective co-parenting should be all parents’ goal after a parenting plan is in place, whether or not the parents use marijuana or work in the marijuana industry. Therefore, if you are struggling with the other party with co-parenting issues, do not hesitate to contact our experienced AZ Family Lawyers for advice on how to better co-parent with less issues. Our consultations and advice are free. Additionally, our consults are 100% confidential.

During and after your custody case in Arizona, there are general tips you can follow to make things easier for yourself and your children. These include:

Commit yourself to positivity when your children are with you:

Family laws recognize that it is harmful for a child to listen to their parents badmouthing each other. The legal definition for this behavior is “parental alienation,” because whether this behavior is conscious or unconscious, it serves to emotionally distance the child from their other parent. Not only will speaking negatively about your child’s other parent in front of the child or on the internet hurt your child, but can be used against you in future custody proceedings.

Don’t use your child as a pawn to punish your ex:

If you are angry at your child’s other parent, parental alienation and withholding visitation will definitely hurt your ex. It might hurt your child even more so. If the other parent keeps records of when you deny visitation, this can be used against you in future custody proceedings.

Be prepared for some bumps in the beginning:

Especially if you’ve just been through a divorce, adjusting to a new parenting plan can take time. It may be easier on everyone if you give the other parent the benefit of the doubt a few times in the beginning if they are late to pick ups and drop offs. You can keep track of these transgressions to have additional evidence if it continues to be an issue, but don’t simply run back to the courthouse the first time your ex is late. Once your custody orders are in place, they can’t be modified for at least one year unless there are emergency circumstances present.

Whenever possible, buy two of everything:

There is no reason for your child to need to stress out about remembering essentials like a jacket or a toothbrush while packing for visitation with the other parent. Make sure your child has two sets of these kinds of items so you don’t have to spend extra time packing and driving back to retrieve forgotten necessities.

Don’t enter disagreements with aggression:

If you disagree with something minor that’s going on at the other parent’s house, starting the conversation calmly and civilly will give you a better chance of achieving your desired outcome.

Try to keep rules consistent between households:

Having two sets of rules at each parent’s household will only confuse your child. Being set in two different routines can make adjustments difficult at each parent’s household. For example, if bedtime is 7:30PM at one house and 9:00PM at the other parent’s house, the child will probably not be able to fall asleep when imposed with the early bedtime, and will struggle to wake up with the late bedtime. Every parent knows that a child without sleep is a grumpy child, so keeping routines consistent can reduce stress and lack of sleep.

If you work in the marijuana industry and have more questions about how this could affect your family law matter, call My AZ Lawyers today for your free initial consultation with one of our experienced family law lawyers. With the recent election and the changing of laws, recreational marijuana use is a “hot button” topic. Our Arizona Family Attorneys are here to assist.

 

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