The question of whether one can co-parent with an addict covers much breadth. So much depends on the nature, extent and substance/behaviour of the addiction. Also, to be factored in is the age and capabilities of the child. Lastly, co-parenting refers broadly to parenting time, as well as decision-making.
To the degree the addiction interferes with the person’s ability to provide care for the child, and this may in part be a function of the addiction and age of the child, then that parent’s independent time with and care of the children may need to be either limited, supervised or restricted altogether. The bottom line in these decisions is the safety of the child.
For example, if the parent has a drug addiction that causes blackouts and an ongoing necessity to seek drugs, his or her time with children of any age may need be restricted altogether.
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Toronto’s Experts in Family Law
In another situation, a parent with an online gambling addiction may have limited or supervised time with a young child, yet may have unrestricted time caring for a preteen or teenaged child, given that the elder child requires less direct supervision. This is not to say that this parent’s care of the older child is good, but that risk of direct harm from neglect is of less concern.
Time providing direct care of the kids is different from participating in decision-making on matters affecting them. Those matters may include choice of school, extra-curricular activities, choice of their service providers, etc.
Despite having an addiction, which may interfere substantially in direct care, a parent may still be able to participate in making those decisions. The issues which may preclude their participation in decision-making can include their availability, mental capacity and degree of conflict between the parents.
So, it may in fact be possible to co-parent with an addict as long as safety, capacity and conflict are factored into the equation, and with a view to differentiating between direct physical care and decision-making.
These situations generally are ripe for concern and strongly held opposing views. Seeking a trial to reach a solution may take considerable time and expense. Assessments may be required to help in judicial decision-making.
Negotiating a solution that appeases concerns can offer both parents a way to move forward. If you are the parent with the alleged addiction, seeking support and treatment can be an important ingredient to helping move things forward too.