Florida divorce law emphasizes the importance of both parents maintaining frequent contact with their children both during and after a divorce. However, when one parent is an alcoholic, the safety and best interests of the child may demand that liberal time sharing be curtailed, that supervised visitation be mandated, and/or that the parent be required to undergo periodic alcohol testing.
Technology borrowed from the criminal justice system may make the thorny problem of balancing the child’s need for parental contact with the child’s right to be safe during such contact a little easier. How you may ask? Let’s say an alcoholic parent is either court-ordered or volunteers to be outfitted with a SCRAM ankle bracelet to monitor alcohol intake. The SCRAM device is programmed to test the parent for alcohol intake every 30 minutes, twenty-four hours a day, every day. If the parent drinks, the other parent or an appropriate child welfare agency will know about it and can immediately take appropriate action to protect the child.
For less severe cases of alcohol abuse, a remote breath-testing device is also available. This permits the parent being monitored to provide multiple, immediately available test results per day. The remote breath tester includes a digital camera to verify the identity of the person taking the breath test and cellular communication capability for immediate notification of the test results. The use of such devices in family law cases can lead to supervised visitation being changed to unsupervised visitation, or vice versa, depending on the outcome of the alcohol testing.
If you or someone you know needs help with a divorce involving an alcoholic parent, contact an experienced family law attorney.