After you have completed intensive rehabilitation and are back at home, you’ll have an aftercare plan in hand and will want to resume your relationship with your children once again. However, for those of us whose access to our children has been temporarily removed due to addiction-related custody issues, our situation may be a little more complicated, at least initially. At the very least, our responsibility following treatment will be to demonstrate the completion of intensive therapy and detox.
Temporarily losing custody of your children might have compelled you into a treatment facility. If so, you may have a court-ordered case plan in place clearly identifying the steps you must take to regain time back with your children. These steps are essential and you should follow them closely.
The family court believes children and their families should remain together only when it’s in the best interest of the children. Even though you have successfully completed your treatment program, you will still need to provide evidence of successfully attending an aftercare program. For example, if attendance at twelve parenting classes is indicated in your case plan, you must attend all twelve.
Guardian ad Litem
A child may have a Guardian ad Litem assigned through the court. This person speaks on behalf of the child and makes sure their best interests are met in court. Some Guardian ad Litems conduct home visits prior to the child’s return to the home. Answers to the questions form part of the report when the case is reviewed.
Guardian ad Litems (or GALS) investigate proceedings relating to the care and the custody of minor children in any domestic relationship. Essentially, they are the court’s eyes and ears, making recommendations about what they think is in the child’s best interests. The goal is to be a dispassionate entity in the many types of child custody cases involving addiction.
Equipped with a background in social work, case managers supervise your progress and provide guidance on where to locate the services the court expects you to attend.
Although your case manager will sometimes help you make contact with the groups you are supposed to attend, it is your responsibility to sign up and attend each session. It is not your social worker’s responsibility to provide transportation or physically make sure you attend sessions.
You may be required to attend a court hearing to review your progress. Before this takes place, your social worker may request proof of attendance from your support groups. It will become evident that you are committed to your case plan, and demonstrate you can sufficiently take care of your children. The following are examples of what you might expect to see in a typical case plan.
Because the judge is looking for consistency, it is vital to follow this court order to the letter. The judge is looking for confirmation you can remain sober or drug-free for an extended period of time. In addition to attending a twelve-step program or something similar, you may be given drug or alcohol tests before and after any supervised visitation with your children. Missing twelve-step meetings, visitation with your children, or refusing drug and sobriety tests can damage your credibility.
While you were in rehab, your support counselors provided you with an aftercare plan. Typically the judge will review the plan you were given, instructing you to follow all recommended mental health and drug treatment programs. As mentioned earlier, your caseworker may contact your therapist requesting proof that you are, in fact, attending support sessions
You may feel you don’t need yet more therapy, especially after being in an intensive treatment environment where therapy happened several times a day. Regular therapy, though, has been demonstrated as key in helping us remain sober and drug-free following intensive rehabilitation. This becomes even more important when we demonstrate our commitment to sobriety and a drug-free lifestyle when caring for our children.
We all have unique parenting styles, and nobody wants to be told how to raise their child. However, when we live under the influence of addiction to the point where it interferes with our parenting, we may be ordered to attend parenting classes. These classes can be useful as they help us understand our child’s early developmental stages. Understanding these stages can help relieve some of the frustration we feel when communicating with young children
It can also help us understand that even though children may be too young to speak and communicate in ways we would typically understand, they can still absorb disruptive and dysfunctional environments. Parenting classes help us understand the impact these disruptions have on the emotional and physical development, as well as the well-being of our children. Attending these sessions is mandatory if they’re on your case plan. Your instructor will send a report back to the court through your case manager.
Supervised visitation is precisely what it sounds like: visitation with our children that is supervised. In most situations, supervised visitation begins at a designated family center specifically set up for supervised visits with family members and their children. If this goes well without any problems, then supervised visitation may progress.
Depending on our situation, we may have supervised visitation with another family member at a home other than ours. If this is the case, those conditions will be specifically laid out in court.
Although court-ordered case management can be frustrating, the absolute worst thing we can do is to fail to comply because we don’t think it is fair or don’t believe we need the case plan. Talking through our feelings with our therapist or support group can be beneficial; however, acting on our frustrations may derail things.
Even though we may experience court-ordered attendances at addiction and parenting programs, the information and insights we gain during those programs and the support we encounter from others in similar situations can be beneficial. Remember, family courts want a full reunification of family members.
Family courts believe children and their families should remain together only when it’s in the children’s best interest. Even though you have successfully completed your treatment program, you will still need to provide evidence of successfully attending an aftercare program. Understanding the importance of completing your case plan is key if you are in a situation where you need to regain custody of your children. Surrounded by the sublime landscape of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, the Detox Center of Colorado offers a solution-based transitional residence program aimed at accountability and recovery. Against a backdrop of clean, mountain air, your substance abuse or mental health recovery is supported by a range of treatment and aftercare options developed with your needs in mind. Call the Detox Center of Colorado at (303) 952-5035. It may be the best thing you do for yourself.