Law gavel with alcoholThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing specific circumstances in which a Las Vegas, Nevada parent may seek an emergency change of child custody. The previous post focused on emergency custody changes relating to a parent’s use of drugs. A parent’s use or possession of drugs or drug-related activities that create an imminently dangerous situation for a child may be considered an emergency, justifying an immediate custody change. This article will discuss when a parent’s alcohol abuse or alcoholism result in an emergency change in custody. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak to an attorney.

When a Las Vegas judge will consider a parent’s alcohol use an emergency for purposes of changing custody

As noted elsewhere in this series, a child must be in serious danger of imminent harm as a result of a parent’s behavior for a judge to consider ordering an emergency custody change. It is not uncommon for a parent to allege that their co-parent’s use of alcohol in the presence of their is dangerous. In some cases, this is undoubtedly true. For example, if a parent is consistently drunk around the child and, as a result, not able to properly care for the child, this may be considered grounds for an emergency change. If the parent has been observed drinking and driving with the child while impaired by alcohol or has been arrested for a DUI with the child, this may also be considered an emergency by the court.

One should, however, distinguish between a parent’s occasional alcoholic beverage vs. abusing alcohol to the point of potentially harming a child. If a father drinks a few beers at home while watching football with his son on Sunday, for example, this will not likely be considered an emergency by the court. Similarly, an isolated DUI when the child was not present may not rise to the level requiring an emergency custody change. It is important to remember that exaggerated or false claims will not be well received by the court and may result in negative consequences to the requesting parent’s custody rights. When reviewing a request for an emergency change, a Las Vegas judge will be interested in whether alcohol abuse or a parent’s alcoholism is causing or may cause harm in the future to the child. It is possible that a pattern of alcohol abuse may indeed lead to the court to modify a custody arrangement, but perhaps not on an emergency basis. It is more likely that the Court will schedule a hearing to understand whether a non-emergency change in custody is appropriate. Each decision by the court will be based on the facts of the specific situation.

A Las Vegas attorney can assist with the emergency custody change process

When a true danger to the child exists, the first step in requesting an emergency custody hearing is to file a Motion with the court, which may be heard on an expedited basis by request. An initial hearing will be held quickly, after the other parent is given at least one days’ notice. Based on the facts presented at the initial hearing, the judge will determine whether custody should be immediately changed. The judge may change custody temporarily, pending a future hearing to determine a more permanent arrangement. Where no emergency cause for a custody change exists, the judge may deny the request outright. Alternatively, the court may postpone the matter altogether for a future trial. If the court feels a trial is justified then discovery will begin shortly after the initial hearing. If custody is changed on an emergency basis as a result of alcohol abuse or alcoholism, then a judge may order the parent to seek treatment and require supervised visitation during such period.

As a Las Vegas child custody lawyer, I am committed to helping my clients by providing the highest level of customer service and respect throughout this difficult process. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak to an attorney.