How does marijuana use affect custody cases in Washington?
Marijuana use is legal in Washington. However, it could impact a child custody case. It's not unheard of for one parent to allege that the other parent is unfit for parenting because of his or her marijuana use. Get legal help for cases involving marijuana use and child custody.
Washington's Laws for Marijuana Use & Their Effect on Child CustodyChild custody disputes can be hostile. Marijuana use and child custody issues can make some cases even more so. Even in a state like Washington which has legalized the use of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21, parents' marijuana use may still turn up as a factor in determining child custody disputes. One parent may argue that it makes the other an unfit parent and should therefore influence the court's decision regarding custody. In any family or child custody dispute based on the marijuana use of one parent, the court will not base its decision solely on the use of marijuana. Rather, it will base its decision on several factors, including whether abuse of controlled substances (like marijuana, alcohol, or other drugs) affects the person's ability to parent in the best interest of the child. Each case is different, so talk about the specifics of your case with an attorney.
I use marijuana. Will this affect my child custody situation?The answer to this question is not as easy and simple as a yes or no. These matters are decided by courts on a case-by-case basis. For example, if you use marijuana regularly and it impairs your ability to look after and care for your child, then marijuana use could affect child custody decisions by the court. On the other hand, if you use marijuana but it does not affect your ability to parent, then the court may find that you are a fit parent and therefore entitled to custody and/or visitation. For example, if you use marijuana occasionally and never while watching after a child, then it may not affect custody. This is similar to how occasional alcohol use generally won't preclude a parent from obtaining custody. In matters like this, it's best to get in touch with a family lawyer who will advise you about your legal options. The good news is that, as those who use marijuana are not breaking any laws (assuming they use it within the law's confines), legal and responsible drug use (like legal and responsible consumption of alcohol) should not have an effect on custody.
Proving Marijuana Use Should Affect Child Custody OrdersIf you believe that the other parent's use of marijuana impairs his or her ability to parent, then you must demonstrate this to the court. Simply establishing use of the drug may not be sufficient, as it is legal in Washington. You may present testimony from others who can speak to the parent's abuse of the drug or excessive use of the drug when he or she is supposed to be watching the child. There may be specific incidents in which marijuana use interfered with parenting duties, or when it led to (or nearly led to) injuries to the child. Discuss with your lawyer the evidence you'll need to establish marijuana abuse affects parenting duties and should affect the court's custody ruling.