Does Substance Abuse Constitute Child Abuse?

Does Substance Abuse Constitute Child Abuse?The Challenges of Parenting

Parenting isn’t easy, and no parent is perfect. We all face struggles every day, including struggles with substance abuse. But that alone doesn’t make you a bad parent. The medical community has recognized substance abuse as a medical condition that should be treated. It isn’t a personal fault or weakness. Under New Jersey law, substance abuse by a parent does not constitute child abuse or neglect in and of itself. Your child cannot be taken away from you simply because you use drugs or alcohol, nor can your parental rights be terminated. But substance abuse is involved in many child welfare cases, and it’s important to understand how such a factor can affect a case.

While substance abuse does not constituent child abuse or neglect on its own, a parent’s ability to care for a child properly can be compromised by drug or alcohol use. The family court looks at each particular case individually and thus does not draw the line of child abuse before considering all the facts. At the same time, you can expect a factor like substance abuse to have some influence over your case. The court will look at factors such as:

  • Whether or not your substance abuse has prevented you from providing a minimum standard of care for your child
  • Whether or not you have actually harmed your child with your substance abuse
  • Whether or not you can fix the problem, and, if you have a newborn,
  • Whether or not your baby was born with withdrawal symptoms or neonatal disorders caused by substance abuse

Dealing with CPS can make you feel like you are a bad parent, especially if you struggle with substance use. Whether or not you are dependent on substances or are involved with CPS because of an isolated incident, you need to be working with an experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney. Whenever substance use is involved—whether or not it constitutes child abuse—you may be asked to do certain things like go through treatment or counseling. An attorney can explain how substance use could affect your unique case and advise you of the things you should do, such as accepting certain services or telling your side of the story in court. You don’t deserve to be separated from your child simply because of drug or alcohol use, but you do deserve a chance to fix the problems that are putting your child at risk.

Are you facing allegations of child abuse? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can advise you of your rights and help you defend yourself against the DCP&P. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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