Keeping Your Family Strong--Even Through Divorce

Could Your Use Of Medical Marijuana Hurt Your Custody Case?

by Kristen Wright

The idea of marijuana as medicine has grown in popularity in recent years -- but that doesn't mean that all the old prejudices against its use are gone. Parents who are facing divorce and custody battles need to be aware of how the use of medical marijuana can affect them.

Here are the most important things to keep in mind:

Your marijuana use is still controversial to many family court judges.

Even though your state may allow you to use marijuana medicinally (or even recreationally), the federal government still considers the drug to be illegal. A lot of family court judges still consider the use of the drug by a parent to be a questionable choice that could influence that parent's children down the road toward drug addiction by normalizing drug use.

Be prepared to explain to the judge how you intend to keep your children away from the marijuana products you use (especially edibles, which can be attractive to children) and how you will model responsible behavior. Keep in mind that medical marijuana is still largely treated the same as alcohol; it may not be illegal to have and use, but its use could still make a judge ask questions.

Your capacity to be an effective parent could be questioned.

Judges are required to make custody decisions based on what's in the "best interests of the children." Among the factors commonly considered is a parent's mental and physical ability to parent.

One of the big problems for marijuana users is the perception that they're constantly "stoned" and unable to function normally. While just about any painkiller on the drug market (and a lot of allergy and cold medicine out there) could have the same effect, those drugs have never suffered from the same public relations problem that marijuana has.

During the court hearing for custody, you can expect the judge to look closely at your use of medical marijuana. The judge may want to know why you are using medical marijuana in the first place to see if an emotional or physical disorder could impair your ability to manage parenting tasks. You may be asked how often you use the drug, what dosage you use, and how well you can function when using it.

For more information on how you can prepare an effective custody case despite your use of medical marijuana, talk to your child custody attorney early. It's important to never conceal important information like that when you're building a custody case.