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Mother alcohol problem. Child under fathers care.

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What chance do I have to get my child back?

Hi. I have been separated from my ex for 3 months now.  

I have no access to my 3 year old daughter because he does not trust me.

I have an alcohol problem, which I have been seeing ongoing treatment for (AA meetings, psychologist, GP, counsellor, alcohol testing). Ive been clean for 2 months now and planning to continue to be so.  

What are my chances of getting 50% of custody? What I need to do to get my child back on my terms.

Last edit: by Secretary SPCA

What are your terms?
As far as "your terms", I think you need to just take a step back and think about the situation from the father's perspective.

The fact that you admit and acknowledge your alcohol problem is to be commended. Everybody makes mistakes, but it sounds like you are on the right track to repairing the damage and getting your life back under control. However, I'm sure you can appreciate the father's lack of trust for you as a result of your addiction, and subsequently, his reluctance to allow the child to be in your care. This is something that will take time to get past, and if you want to be trusted, the only way to achieve this is to be consistently trustworthy. But it would probably serve you (and your daughter) best to take it slow and steady so that trust can be rebuilt and a new parenting relationship forged between yourself and her father. It will also take time for your daughter to readjust as well, so you have to be sensitive to the way this will affect her.

Now is not the time for conflict and demands. Your chances of getting 50/50 shared care of your child at this stage are probably pretty slim. The father has had her for 3 months, and I assume that there have been no problems on his end, in which case he has proven himself by default to be the more stable and capable parent. If this went to court many months would pass before it was heard, and the longer that goes by with Dad having sole responsibility, the more likely the "status quo" will be continued. I imagine that initially you'd be more likely to get an order of every other weekend plus some school holiday access. But depending on how bad your alcohol problem was and how it affected your daughter, he may put up a good argument for supervised visits only and no overnights.

The first step in the process is mediation at your local Family Relationship Centre. If that fails or he refuses, you will be given a certificate enabling you to take the matter to court. However, I'd suggest your best option for success is to try to make it work through mediation.

If you can lay it out to him honestly, apologise sinserely, show him your treatment plans and/or proof of clean U/A's, and listen to his concerns and fears, you just might be able to establish a basis for communication. Then you could suggest a plan that slowly integrates your daughter back into your life over a period of time. You could draw up a suggested plan, starting with daytime visits only, then building up to an overnight once a week or fortnight, then graduate to every second weekend, and aim towards having a 50/50 shared care arrangement by the end of a 12mth period. This means that he can slowly see you doing the right thing, your daughter has time to adjust and is not simply thrust into a dramatically different routine, and you can earn their trust back bit by bit. It may seem like a long time, but 12 months in the scheme of your child's lifetime is nothing. If the situation becomes conflictual and you drag each other through the court system, it will be a lot more detrimental to your daughter's wellbeing, and you may not end up with a favourable result anyway.

I can understand how you feel 2 months dry is impressive and no doubt it has been hard work for you to accomplish this but you still have a long way to go.

rabbit has made valued input.

Mediation and start slow, perhaps supervised visits at first.
Although hard to do it will help your daughter reconnect as well as show your interaction as viewed by professionals.
You could suggest 2 months of supervised visits then work to wards initial day time ' spends time with ' you, slowly working to wards overnight.

This is not only for the sake of your daughter adjusting but also for you to recover.

I tend to agree with Fairgo's question " What are your terms ".

The answer to this would help us have a better understanding of what you are trying to achieve and just how quick.

No good parent ever gets their child back on their terms we adjust and sacrifice for each other and negotiate terms or the court decides for us.

I do believe rabbits projection for 12 months is a kind one I think it may take longer but if you don't have a relapse and deal with this situation with the right perspective understanding why this has all happened it could well be less than 12 months.
Big thank you to Rabbit and D4E,
You suggestions really help me to shape an idea what are the reasonable steps to achieve 50 -50 custody. I am sometimes in a dark space because I don't have  a specific time drawn before I can enjoy being with my daughter without controls of my ex. i hope to have a parenting plan  established temporary in the February, and I suppose a supervised seeings are good idea. So you think it would be o.k to ask for daily unsupervised visits after 2 moths of supervised seeings? I am afraid even to ask for anything because I don't know my rights, and what is a reasonable time to allow for the whole process. Big thanks again. Please I ask for more advice!!!!
50% care? Very little chance. History of alcohol addiction or no history of alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addiction aside, there's a whole lot of boxes to tick before 50/50 shared care would become a viable proposition for a court to consider.

But having said that, you won't get 50/50 care if you don't ask for it. And don't let me put you off.

My thoughts in respect of your situation is this: Given your history of alcohol addiction, do you really want 50/50 shared care?

I've had a drug addiction myself. Been clean for several years now. But I'm still dealing with the 'demons' that caused me to go there in the first place.

Yes - you're gotten off the turps. Congrats. But there are more battles to come. Over the next year or more, you may find yourself struggling with deep seated 'fears' - the ones that drove you to drink. I'd suggest you'll need space to working through these types of issues.

A situation of 50/50 shared care might put you under a great deal of pressure. And you and I both know that pressure and stress can trigger relapses. Yes?

Personally, my opinion is that you need to take care of yourself first. To be an effective parent you need to be the best person you can be.

Perhaps the best person you can be requires that you children spend time with you every second weekend, half school holidays, etc?

Don't take on too much, too soon, because you may well implode. And if you implode, where does that leave you and, most importantly, your children?

Baby steps. Take it easy.

That's just my opinion.

i do understand that the problem of alcohol problem will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am prepared for that. I am a binge drinker and continuous treatment will unable me to recognize the triggers for my drinking. The care for my daughter is definitely not one of those triggers. In the past I really had a lot on my plate, where working 4 days a weeks , long hours I was caring for her full time, running the household because my ex was helping me very little. Full time care would be to much that is why i am asking for 50%.
In the past I really had a lot on my plate, where working 4 days a weeks , long hours I was caring for her full time, running the household because my ex was helping me very little.Full time care would be to much that is why i am asking for 50%

50% shared care can be a 'plate' full.

Anyway - you wont get to a final hearing for 1 1/2. So you've got plenty of time to work it out and get yourself in order.

This is a tough one because coming from someone who's ex is an alcoholic, there will always be those massive trust issues and although 2 months sober is fantastic.. it still kinda feels like its a ticking time-bomb because alcoholism is something that will stay with you for life. Worst still, there's there's that fear that the Addiction will be witnessed by the Child which is an ugly feeling to have.

Hopefully your ex has gone to some Al-Alon meetings - in case you don't know what they are, they're gatherings of Family and Friends of Alcoholics. I use to go to these when I was still in the relationship with my big fat pregnant belly.. mostly for the help and also so I wasn't there when my ex got home as he tended to peak in his violent rages when he was drunk. It is unbelievable how busy those meetings are. It really affects a lot of people and I got a lot of helpful advice from those who have been there and done that. We even had our own 12 steps.

I don't know what I can suggest so that he'll trust you more. I certainly hope it doesn't get to Court (it didn't for my ex and I) because it doesn't need to but as 4MD said, you need to have measures in place so that you don't relapse and address the issues that are lurking underneath.  This will take a great deal of emotional maturity and insight on your behalf and without it, you won't be able to communicate effectively that you've 'turned a corner'. Remember, we've heard it all before but hey, if you're really committed to do it then good luck to you!
@ Plus 1 …. what are your thoughts on this gents proposed 50/50 care arrangements given he's recovering from alcohol addiction?

Would to have concerns along the lines I have mentioned or - in my attempts to play devils advocate - am I over stating those concerns?

I guess on the flip-side, I suppose throwing yourself into something could be a valid strategy in overcoming drug addictions?

No, I think what you're saying is right on the money. I went to AA meetings with my ex and there were recovering alcoholics still there 30-40 years after their last drink, still struggling with their demons.

I don't believe in Children being used as Motivation to give with the alcohol/drugs. That's not their job to carry that burden, all they need to worry about is being kids. I must say though, I can see some hope for this person. They're on here by themselves asking questions which demonstrates that they're willing to face this. Quite often it will be extended Family/Partners that will push this agenda in order to get the addict to face their responsibilities which is a recipe for disaster for the child or to a lesser extent, a useless waste of time. Like anything in life, nothing works unless your heart is in it and you're doing the hard yards for the right reasons. You have to want to deal with your issues and change your life for yourself, not because you're sick of being broke, drunk, off ya face whatever..

I think this person needs to take some time to deal with life with a sober set of eyes long enough to have a look at how they deal with life's trials.

They mentioned that they're a binge drinker which suggests to me that they're emotional when they drink. Something goes awry, and next thing you know; we're smashed. It also demonstrates to me that there's also an element of risk taking behaviour. All of which is dangerous territory when we're talking BIC. My ex is a binge drinker and there's no way I would agree to 50/50. Two months for a Binge drinker isn't really a long time between drinks to properly ascertain whether or not this is a turned corner.
Having said that, Confucius would say that the longest journey begins with a single step.

Putting aside your 50/50 care aspirations for the moment, you need to re-establish contact with your daughter.

Have you put to the father an interim proposal for supervised contact arrangements?

The father could act as supervisor?

A trusted third party could act as supervisor?

You could use a Children's Contact Centres for supervised visits.

You can find a Children's Contact Centre in your local area on my web site - they're all listed.

To find one in your area use 'Advanced Search' > 'category' = 'Contact Centres' > Enter your 'Postal Code' > Enter 'Distance' (ie. 50 kms)

Actually, have you done Family Dispute Resolution yet?

Alcoholism is not the 'end-of-the-world' and alcoholism doesn't mean you are NOT a capable, nor irresponsible parent.

But realise you need to go through a 'restoring confidence' exercise/journey with those that matter - the father, his family, your family, Judge/FM, family consultant, etc.

I think generally people have a fixed point of view, and make lightning fast decisions which may affect their whole life. I just want to suggest you If you accept that "your drinking habit is causing problem in your relation or child custody.  than you should think once more to get patch up with your ex. Because in divorce and in such cases child is the one who suffer most.

Mother alcohol problem. Child under fathers care.


I have no credentials or diplomas to assist you with your question  of 50/50 split.

What I can only share is that your on the right track, if you want your child in your life is to stay dry, like you have already achieved  8 weeks.

Stay dry , educate yourself in these matters, get as much help as you can.

Every child needs both a mummy and a daddy in their life, prove yourself, be patient in your recovery and remember your sacrifice is in the very best interest of your child.
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