How to Regain Custody After Recovering from Addiction

Written by Jonathan Breeden

November 25, 2023

We all go through peaks and valleys in life, but substance abuse may feel like a pit you’ll never crawl out of. Drug addiction costs you everything — your job, home, and even your children. If the judge revoked your custody rights initially due to your addiction, you have the opportunity to modify the order if you’ve taken steps to make a change.

Attending rehab and proving you’ve been clean for an extended period could swing the judge’s decision in your favor, allowing you to have rights to see your kids again. Here’s more on the steps to regain custody after an addiction and how an attorney helps your case.

Can Recovered Addicts Regain Custody?

North Carolina law states that a child custody order may be modified or vacated at any time if you prove there was a “change in circumstances.” If proven, the court can create a new custody order granting you rights to see your children again if the court believes that to be in the best interest of the children.  .

Various conditions could constitute what the law deems as a change in circumstances, such as attending a rehab clinic, passing drug tests consistently, securing a stable job, and creating a safe living space for your children.

If you’ve taken these actions to overcome your drug or alcohol addiction, your family law attorney can file a motion to modify the order and present a strong case before the judge arguing why a new custody order is necessary.

How to Modify a Custody Order in North Carolina

You must follow specific guidelines for modifying your custody order and failing to properly file your motion to modify could stall the process or compromise its success. Take the following steps to regain custody:

Attend Rehab & Secure a Stable Job

You might have already completed this step; however, you should note that having a successful rehabilitation period is vital to regaining custody. In addition to having a strong track record of remaining sober without relapsing, the court also considers other factors, including securing a stable job so you can provide a comfortable living space for your kids while they stay with you. These actions tell the court that you’ve moved on from your past and are ready to take on the responsibility of being a parent again.

File a Motion to Modify Custody or Visitation

Once you’ve won the battle of addiction, it’s time to file a motion to modify custody or visitation. To ensure its validity, you must sign this document in front of a notary public. Your motion to modify custody might involve other documents in the process, including the following:

  • Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet
  • Certificate of Service of Process
  • Affidavit of Status of Minor Child
  • Custody Mediation Cover Sheet

Your attorney will explain all of these documents and help you file them correctly with the Clerk of Court in the respective county.

Attend Mandatory Mediation

Every custody case must go through mediation, even if you already attended for the first custody agreement. The mediation will involve a neutral third party who helps both you and your ex come to a reasonable custody agreement that considers your recent change in circumstance. The final decision will be based on the child’s best interests and the rights and responsibilities of the parents.

Serve the Other Party

In North Carolina, you must serve your ex the motion to modify custody specifically to ensure your case is heard. You may serve the paperwork in the following ways:

  • Mail
  • Through the Sheriff for a fee
  • Personal Delivery
  • Fax

Attend All Court Hearings with Your Attorney

The last step is attending your court hearing. You should attend all hearings accompanied by your attorney. With your attorney present, you can present your case before the judge arguing why your custody order should be modified. After the judge hears your case, they will make the final decision, which might include drafting a new custody order.

Get Your Kids Back – Call Today

It’s in every child’s best interest to have a strong relationship with their parents. Studies have shown that a strong parent-child bond is essential to their success and development, and a lopsided custody agreement due to addiction could negatively affect the whole family. The good news is that custody orders are not set in stone, and you can regain the right to see your kids if you’ve recovered from your addiction.

Attorney Jonathan Breeden of Breeden Law Office will do everything he can to ensure you regain custody rights. He’ll help you file all the paperwork, attend mediation with you, and argue your case before a judge. Contact our office today at (919) 661-4970 for a free consultation.


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