When couples are going through a divorce, child custody is usually one of the tougher decisions they face. In most cases, courts prefer to award joint custody, as it is believed to be in the best interest of the children. Kids fare best when they have strong, stable relationships with both parents. However, when alcohol or substance abuse is a factor, the courts prefer to award one parent with sole custody. 

The reason is clear; substance abuse severely compromises a parent’s ability to care for children. Additionally, children that are raised by a parent struggling with substance abuse have a higher risk of emotional and behavioral issues, as well as other life-altering effects. 

Abuse rates are higher for kids who live in homes with substance disorders 

One study showed that kids who live in homes with substance abuse are four times more likely to experience parental neglect. These children are also three times more likely to experience emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Children living with substance and alcohol abuse in the home are also more likely to suffer from developmental and educational problems, as well as behavioral problems and mental health issues. 

What to do if your child is exposed to substance abuse 

If you are concerned about your child’s well-being due to a substance abuse issue, you can file for an emergency custody order in North Carolina. These orders are granted by judges due to extenuating circumstances, such as a child being at risk of bodily harm when in the custody of a parent or guardian. 

Ex parte orders, as they are also known, take effect immediately. They are granted in the short-term until a hearing can be held to determine the threat facing the child and whether it is indeed legitimate. When necessary, law enforcement can help implement emergency child support orders to ensure the safety of the children at the center of the dispute.