Have you been denied the right to see your children due to drug use? Has the Court awarded sole custody to one parent due to your drug use? That is the situation at the case before the Court in Mitchell v. Mitchell out of Madison County, Alabama.
In 2015, the trial court entered an order that precluded any visitation between the mother and the parties’ child based on their mother’s drug use.
In 2019 the mother filed a petition to modify the 2015 judgment to provide her with visitation rights. The mother testified that she is a recovering drug addict and her drug of choice had been Percocet. The mother claimed that she had been drug free for four years.
The mother takes a number of medications as a part of her recovery program. The mother submits to a monthly drug screen as a requirement of her regiment. At the time of the trial the mother was living with her parents and working as an accountant. The mother testified that the father allows her to have daily phone contact with the minor child.
During the trial, the mother testified that she recently had seen the child at her brother’s house but did not tell the father about the visit because she was afraid, he would not agree. The father testified at trial that the minor child went to the maternal uncle’s house almost every weekend and that the uncle and aunt we're very responsible people. The father further testified that he had no objection to the mother having visitation as long as it was supervised by the maternal uncle or maternal aunt. The trial court entered an order denying the mother's request for visitation. The mother appealed and that the case was reversed.
The appellate court determined that not only is it public policy but it is a general rule of the state that strongly favors providing noncustodial parents reasonable visitation rights with their children.
The Court held in barring the mother from having any visitation with the child the child the trial court must have been convinced that any lesser restriction would not have been sufficient to prevent the child from being harmed by the mother.
The mother had to demonstrate that a material change in circumstances had taken place since 2015 and that the best interest and welfare of the child warranted a modification. The parties agreed that the mother proved a material change circumstances based on her efforts to remain opiate free.
The trial court specifically commended the mother on her rehabilitation efforts and indicated that the mother had reformed from the condition that led to her suspension of her visit custodial visitation in 2015.
The court further held that the father who is in a position to assess the mother and the situation did not object allowing the mother supervised visitation with the child. This case was reversed and remanded, the trial court was to enter a new judgment awarding mother such visitation with the child.