What is Considered “Alcoholism” in a Georgia Child Custody Case?

Approximately 17% of people in Georgia admit that they’re “binge drinkers.” If you are going through a divorce in Georgia, there is a chance that your ex might also struggle with alcohol abuse. You might be concerned about leaving your children with this individual, especially considering the rising number of alcohol-related deaths and DUI car crashes in Atlanta. How do family courts in Georgia define “alcoholism,” and when might this affect a parent’s custody rights?

Defining Alcoholism in Georgia

Like many States, Georgia views alcoholism as a mental health issue rather than a crime. You can find a definition for this “disorder” under Title 37 of the Georgia Code. This section states that an alcoholic is someone who “lacks self-control” when it comes to alcohol. Alternatively, Georgia defines an alcoholic as someone who drinks so much that it impairs or endangers their “health, social standing, or economic function.” 

In other words, an alcoholic is someone who “can’t say no” to alcohol. It might also be someone who drinks to the point where they can no longer hold down a job. In addition, someone who struggles with serious health issues because of their alcohol consumption may be defined as an “alcoholic” by Georgia family courts. 

In the field of psychology, alcoholism is called “Alcohol Use Disorder” (AUD). The definition of AUD is almost identical to the one set forth by Georgia. Psychologists may “grade” AUD on a scale ranging from mild to severe. 

Georgia Family Courts Only Consider How Alcoholism Affects the Children

While defining alcoholism is helpful, Georgia family courts may not consider these definitions when approaching child custody. The only concern for family courts is the child’s best interests. A parent may be diagnosed with alcoholism, but this diagnosis may not matter unless the disorder has a meaningful effect on the child’s best interests. 

If the parent drinks heavily but still manages to fulfill all the normal duties of a responsible parent, they may still receive considerable custody rights. For example, the parent might wait till the children are asleep before binge drinking. They may have no DUI offenses on their driving record, and their alcohol consumption may not affect their income. 

Faced with the prospect of losing time with their children, an alcoholic will likely make these arguments in family courts during custody battles. If you disagree, your custody lawyer in Atlanta can help you prove that their substance abuse issues negatively affect the child’s best interests. 

Contact Lankford & Moore Law Today

If you are concerned about the prospect of your children spending time with your alcoholic ex, speak with an Atlanta custody lawyer right away. The definition of “alcoholism” in Georgia is somewhat vague, and it is open to interpretation. A lawyer can help you prove that your ex’s substance abuse issues make them unsuitable as a parent. Book your consultation today to get started with an action plan. 

I realized the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part of my time during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby — not even money, certainly not my soul.

Mahatma Gandhi

Lankford & Moore Law in Downtown Lawrenceville

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