Does Cannabis Use Affect Child Custody in New Jersey?

cannabis new jersey child custody

Even though the State of New Jersey legalized the use of cannabis for anyone twenty-one years of age or older, indulging in this pastime may affect your parental rights and child custody arrangements. To learn more, please read on, then contact one of our experienced temporary child custody attorneys in Bergen County, NJ. Some questions you may have include:

What rights do parents have to use cannabis in New Jersey?

The 2021 New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act, which oversees the recreational use of cannabis, found that the courts should not deny any person found in possession of marijuana custody of their children or the ability to foster or adopt on the basis of their possession. Indeed, a New Jersey Appellate Division Court decision affirmed that cannabis use can’t, in and of itself, cause the termination of parental rights. Simply put, the family court can’t base their decisions solely on parents’ cannabis use when determining custody or taking away their rights.

How does cannabis use affect child custody in New Jersey?

Nevertheless, the state mandates the family courts to make decisions and findings that serve the best interests of the child. Should the family court find that a parent’s substance use interferes with their children’s best interests, the court will investigate further. In particular, they will look out for behaviors including:

  • Impairment by the substance that results in the parent neglecting their child’s physical and emotional needs.
  • Leaving cannabis within easy reach of children or incidents of children accidentally ingesting the parent’s marijuana.
  • Impairment by the substance that increases the risk of harm to the child or a documented incident of harm happening while a parent is under the influence.
  • Parental preoccupation with drugs, resulting in missing a pick-up or drop-off due to a detour to a recreational cannabis dispensary.

How do you prove your ex is abusing cannabis in New Jersey?

To convince a judge to order a custody evaluation, you will need to collect and present evidence in a declaration or through testimony in court that illustrates how your ex is endangering your children as a result of cannabis use. To substantiate your claims of overuse/abuse of marijuana, you should present evidence such as:

  • Witnesses
  • Emails
  • Test messages

How can cannabis use alter child custody in New Jersey?

If the court finds that the parent’s cannabis use harms the child, they may order the following consequences:

  • Supervised visitation for the using parent
  • Requirement that the using parent attends a drug rehab program
  • Loss of child custody until the using parent completes a drug rehab program
  • Placement of children with a guardian and/or in foster care
  • Termination of parental rights

No matter which side of this divide you are on, speak with one of our skilled child custody attorneys in Bergen County, NJ today.

Contact our experienced Bergen County firm

To speak with our team of family law lawyers today, please contact us online, or through our Hackensack, NJ office at (201) 397-1750.

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