Child Visitation with an Alcoholic Father

Updated on December 27, 2012
K.M. asks from Lakewood, OH
20 answers

I've been divorced 6 years and we have shared parenting. The problem is my ex is bi-polar, on psychiatric meds, and he drinks around the kids, age 9 and 11. As a matter of fact, when we were married I didn't leave the kids with him because he would drink and fall asleep in the chair, leaving the kids unsupervised. He pays his child support and insists on exercising his visitation with them.
Last year, he got a DUI with the kids in the car. Somehow he got his sentence reduced, had to do a weekend in rehab, go to AA, and pay some fines. He swore he would never drink again around the kids and I made it clear to him that I would stop meeting him half way (he lives in Columbus, me and the kids in Cleveland) if he drank in their presence again. Well, the kids have been reporting to me all summer that he's drinking. He passes out in his chair and they can't wake him to fix dinner. I live in fear that he's going to pass out with a cigarette in his hand and burn the apartment down with my kids inside. It's affecting his memory too. Sometimes he'll call and tell me the same thing several times and has no recollection. I truly feel my kids are in danger and don't want to risk losing them, so I put my foot down and told him I won't meet him half way anymore, which I'm not legally obligated to do- I have been doing it out of kindness (or stupidity, you pick) and I'm going to seek advice from a lawyer.
His response is to take me to court to force me to meet halfway because it's too costly to come up to get them every week. He makes 2-3 times what I earn, and he drives a new car while I've been driving a clunker, just trying to make ends meet. Any advice on how to protect my kids and deal with hi would be appreciated....

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks for all your responses. To answer some of your questions, we get along for the kids and do not argue in front of them, but him staying here or me staying at his house is not an option. I have been struggling financially to keep a car running to meet him half way . My stance on that is why should I do spend my time and money to make visitation more convenient for him if he doesn't care enough about his kids to stay sober. That said, the traveling details are minor compared to the real issue, which is their safety.
I plan to talk to a lawyer this Tuesday. Supervised visitation is what I'm going to push for and I would like to go for full custody but I know he will fight it. I also what a stipulation in the visitation papers that states that if he is drinking around the kids, he is in violation of the order. What else they can order I'm not sure. I was very surprised he was given his license back - this is not his 1st DUI. I though that they would at least make him keep one of those breathalyzer devices in his car, but like I said, his lawyer got his charges reduced for good behavior. I contacted Children's Services last year and they informed me they really couldn't do anything, especially since he only has them on the weekends and it's hard to prove he's unfit. After all, drinking is legal and drinking around your kids is not a crime. I would have gotten a lawyer but couldn't afford it. The divorce was in Coshocton Co so I contacted Legal Aid in Tuscarawas Co and although I qualify for help financially, they could not represent me in court. This time, my brother is willing to loan me the money and I'm going to follow through. Also, almost forgot to mention, my ex-mother-in-law and my ex's brother ares willing to testify for me. I don't know if they'll let the kids testify, or if that's even a good idea, but most of the time they don't want to go with him. I really appreciate all your responses, just hope the judge takes it seriously. Thank you

Featured Answers



answers from Colorado Springs on

I don't have any advice but I do think you are doing the right thing. Ignoring his problem with alcohol would be enabling him and that is not good for anyone involved, including him. Maybe once he cannot see his kids anymore he will get help and become a better, happier person and role model for his children. Stay strong!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Saginaw on

Call a lawyer! I am in the process of getting restricted visitation for my kids from their dad for drugs and drinking. You gotta protect the kids! Good luck!

More Answers



answers from Indianapolis on

IT IS ABOUT THE CHILDREN. If he thinks an attorney or judge would rule in his favor, he's mistaken. If there are documented incidents and the children are old enough to tell someone in CPS and/or a child custody evaluator about the situation, they WILL rule in your favor. I JUST went thru this!

If he puts the children in danger - clearly he already has, has shown that he is not responsible w/ them - clearly already has, etc. etc etc., then if I were in your shoes, there is NO WAY I'd do anything other than file for full legal custody and NO visitation until he gets help. Clearly his $$ is spent on alcholo and stuff vs. what's important.......his kids. Garnish his wages if you have to.

Ask yourself..."What kind of role model is he as a father?" "Do I want my children to be around this kind of environment?" "What positive results are there from my kids being around him?"

Depending on your will be CLEAR as to the decision you make. If he's not a fit father, REGARDLESS of that fact that he is a biological father, it's NOT productive in any way, shape, or form! You're better off finding someone from church, another family friend, or related man figure for them to spend time with. Find someone or a couple of responsible men who will be willing to guide, nurture, etc. Otherwise, what is the message you are sending? NOT acceptable behavior as a man or father....

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

I would have the kids call you the next time he passes out and he has them in his custody. Call the police on their behalf. You need proof and they will do something. The only way to protect them is to take drastic but much needed measures so they are never alone with him.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Definitely speak to a lawyer. He got a DUI with the kids in the car? I'm actually amazed that he is still able to see them legally. In IL, they take your kids away for that.
If he is repeating the same things to you, it probably is his memory, but it probably means he is just drunk all day long.
This is very sad, and I'm sorry for you and your children. Alcoholism is a horrible, selfish disease. Chances are, he wants to quit more than anything but he just can't.
Still, your kids can't be in that situation. It will destroy them. Seek out a lawyer. Consider whether or not you will be willing to have your children testify against him. I think this has to be one of those situations where you have to be willing to do anything to protect your kids.
Good luck, please keep us posted. I know there are a lot of parents in the world in similars situations and don't know what to do.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

You need to contact the court. It will be easier for you because its on his record. My SIL is going through a divorce and mentioned her ex's problem and he cannot get visitation unless he can pass a drug screening and even then its supervised visitation. If he is drinking he does not need to be around the kids let alone driving them. Your kids are to precous to put them in harms way and no judge would do put a kid intlo that situation. Talk to your lawyer.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Start the process of getting your custody order modified. (You may be able to get an emergency temporoary order in place) While you are at it ask for more child and spousal support. If everything you say is true and your children can testify along with arrest records etc., he has no business having anything but supervised visits.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

I would seek a lawyers advice. If the children are in danger its up to you to protect them. It seems to me that with his past along with the DUI with the kids in the car he shouldnt even have a license. Your children are taking this all in and you dont want them to think its ok. I grew up with an alcoholic father and I cant even count the ways it impacted my life. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

Hi K.. First of all, I am sorry that you and especially your children, have to go through this. Every single time they go with their dad in a vehicle, or are at his home, as far as I'm concerned, they aren't safe and as their mom you must protect them. I would have went to see an attorney as soon as he received the DUI with them in the car. Meeting halfway would be the least of my worries! I don't mean to sound harsh and I am not in your situation and I'm not judging you. I just think you should protect your kids at all costs. He's an alcoholic & on psychiatric meds, what if he doesn't take his meds? Not only is their safety in jeapordy, but what about what it is doing to them mentally. That must be hard on them when they see their father so drunk he's passed out in a chair unable to be woken up. I would definately talk to an attorney asap! Be strong & do what is right for your kids, they need you! Best of luck to you, my prayers are with you. Keep us posted!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

Hmmm. This is a tough one. Does the Ex have any family near him where he lives? Maybe you could call them and explain your concerns and they can come over and "visit" when the kids are there?

It seems to me that you would have a fairly strong case against him having them alone, or at least driving with them seeing how he already has a DUI on file, when the kids were in the car?

Like you, I would be having trouble with this as well. Maybe you can offer to drive them the whole way if he pays gas, that way you will know they are at least safe for the car ride. How is your relationship with the EX? If you guys get along, maybe you can just talk with him and work out a compromise? I would rather the EX come and stay at my house for his visitation then be sending my kids sop far away in that environment. Maybe you could stay with him with the least for while?

IDK? Very difficult situation you have there and I would absolutely be feeling VERY uncomfortable with the whole he a "lovey dovey drunk" maybe one of these days when he calls you and you can tell he is drunk you should have a conversation with him about your concerns...maybe he will agree to a compromise? Then even if he doesn't remember it you can use that as an example of how your fears are valid?

I would absolutely be talking to an attorney!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

You have gotten some good advice. I would only add that at 9 and 11, your children are old enough to be interviewed by the judge when the case goes to court and hopefully he/she will do what is in the children's best interest.

Lots of people think visitation is required in order to get support, but that is not always the case.

I would call child protection services and get advice there.

Those children need to be safe and they are not safe with a drunk father. furthermore, if he is bipolar, what is to prevent him from deciding someday that the kids would be better off dead? It sure would not be the first time a parent went off the deep end. You need to find some help and don't wait.

Blessings, L.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Call an attorney and consider calling Child Protective Services. Start documenting everything.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

The only thing you can do is go through legal channels. You should abide by your custody arrangement now, document your issues, and pursue legally getting full custody, with supervised visits at best.



answers from Canton on

As for the kids not wanting to go to visitation with their father, ask the lawyer at what age can the kids "choose" to not go with their father. I live in Ohio also, and had this problem with my stepchildren in the past when it came time to visit their mother. If I remember correctly, the age was 12 and the child has to tell other parent themselves. It cannot come from you. The child doesn't have to be nasty but does have to tell the other parent themselves. At that point you have followed the law and made the child available for visitation but you don't have to force them to go. The reason they have the child do it is because the other parent can go to court and say their ex is not allowing them visitation. If the child says no and refuses to go then it is no longer the ex not allowing visitation. I think the child can tell the other parent this over the phone but the child cannot be coached or told what to say by you. Again, double check this with a lawyer because it's been a few years ago.



answers from Dallas on

I don't know what to say, except call CPS. They can investigate and take it to court for you. I don't believe this man should be seeing your children , at all.



answers from Los Angeles on

I see this post was from a couple of years ago. But I would suggest, in your paper work write a solid "if....then" statement. "You shall not consume alcohol or use nonprescription drugs when the children are in your custody. If you do, then......" Five years ago, in our original judgement, we had a statement that said "Neither party shall consume alcohol or use non prescription drugs when the children are in their physical custody." (He has the problem, but we both had to agree to it....fine by me!)
However, he has continuously broken this agreement. My children have called and texted me to pick them up because "dad is drunk and we are scared." The problem is the agreement never said what the consequence was for drinking. I am working to add to it AND to get monitored visits. The kids are now 11 & 13, but this last time, he hurt one of my kids. Family and children services are now involved.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Time to consult an attorney. I wouldn't trust him with the kids.



answers from Cleveland on

The judge needs to know what's going going when he has the kids. It doesn't sound like it's a safe environment for them to be in!! You MUST intervene sooner that later for their safety-and your peace of mind! Good luck!



answers from Cincinnati on

You are telling my story! I haven't read all the other responses, but I taught my kids to call 9-1-1 if their father passed out. The courts would do nothing without evidence because my words were hearsay. Unfortunately, I am still awaiting some sort of decision about his right to visitation even after he was taken to the hospital over 6 months ago. Good luck with your situation!



answers from Evansville on

Your kids are old enough to know what's going on. Make sure to include them on an important conversation. Tell them you know that they aren't tattling on their dad, that it's important for them to tell you what he's been doing because it's not safe and it's unhealthy for their dad. Tell them what can happen to their dad if he continues down the path in regards to his health, his career, his safety, his family, etc. Make sure that they know that his behavior is wrong so it can never be misconstrued as an ex-wife doing something to get back at the dad. Cover that base. That said, definitely talk to a lawyer and try to get supervised visits. Just because he pays child support does not entitle him to visitation and don't EVER let yourself believe that. Trust me, he pays child support because he is legally and morally obligated to. You can always go to court and they will take child support out of his paycheck so he doesn't even have to write the check if he wants to play that game. He's not setting a good example for his children, he's putting their lives in danger, his own life in danger, and you have every right as a mother to stand up for your children.
Close your eyes and imagine for one minute if you sit back and do nothing and he does succeed in hurting your children. DO SOMETHING.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions