Potential Impact of Parental Cannabis Use in Child Custody Determinations in New Jersey

Child Custody Battles in New Jersey Can Be Complex, Especially When Marijuana Use is Involved

The Downside of Marijuana in NJ Child Custody CasesOne of the most difficult and conflict-ridden elements of New Jersey divorce is the determination of child custody. Unless parents are on consistently amicable terms and are willing to work together in service of their child’s well-being, a lot can get in the way of a custody arrangement in which all parties, including the children, are happy. One source of contention when it comes to determining child custody is how a parent’s use of cannabis affects their children’s well-being. If you or your partner uses cannabis and the issue is affecting your custody battle, contact Bronzino Law Firm today to discuss your particular situation. Find out more about the in’s and out’s of New Jersey cannabis law as it relates to child custody below.

Impact of New Jersey’s CREAMM Act on Recreational Marijuana Use and Parental Rights

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization (CREAMM) Act of 2021 legalized the recreational use of cannabis in the state. The Act expanded users’ rights beyond the 2010 law which had legalized the use of medical marijuana in New Jersey. The CREAMM Act also called for the expungement of certain marijuana-related crimes from people’s records. Because of the CREAMM Act, recreational use of cannabis is legal for all people over 21 in New Jersey, including parents. The Act specifically states that one’s parental rights cannot be taken away for marijuana use alone.

Balancing Cannabis Use and Child Wellbeing in NJ Family Court

Strictly speaking, the CREAMM Act states that one cannot lose their parental rights simply because they engage in recreational use of cannabis. However, the family court charged with child custody matters holds the child’s best interests as the central focus of all judgments. As such, if it is determined that a parent’s marijuana use is threatening the wellbeing of their children, their parental rights could be affected, including temporary or even permanent loss of parental rights.

Again, recreational marijuana use alone will have little bearing on a child custody determination. However, there are cases in which byproducts of recreational use adversely impact one’s parenting quality and, as a result, their custodial rights. If there is evidence to show that a parent’s marijuana use causes them to act in a neglectful or distracted way, either to their child or to their surroundings, placing their child at risk of harm, this may impact the family court judge’s ruling on custody. Additionally, if a parent’s use results in direct harm to the child, a judge will definitely take this into serious consideration, as such behavior is obviously not in the child’s best interests.

There are numerous cases of recreational and even medicinal marijuana use being used as evidence in an argument of unfitness for parenting by the non-using (or non-‘abusing’) parent. Such arguments strive to limit the using parent’s custodial or parenting time (visitation) rights. In some cases in which a parent has been deemed unfit for custody or unsupervised visitation due to marijuana abuse, the court has severely limited or restricted the parental rights of the individual on a temporary or permanent basis.

How Marijuana Use by a Parent Can Impact Child Custody Decisions in Court in Freehold NJLegal Implications and Court Interventions Regarding Child Custody Rights and Marijuana Abuse

The family court judge can limit child custody rights during the initial hearing or change parental rights if it is found that one parent is abusing marijuana and the children’s safety and wellbeing are placed at risk as a result. A court can require supervised visitation, temporarily remove parental rights until a drug program or rehab has been completed, or in more severe cases they can completely remove a parent’s rights to custody and visitation of their child.

Get in Touch with a Family Lawyer to Discuss Marijuana’s Impact on Your Custody Case in Ocean and Monmouth County

Are you being accused of being an unfit parent by a bitter ex, and they are citing your cannabis use as proof? Are you in a custody battle with a parent whose abuse of marijuana is putting your child’s safety and best interests at risk? We at Bronzino Law Firm have your back. As evidenced by hundreds of successful family court cases representing clients in Red Bank, Manalapan, Bay Head, Middletown, Ocean Township, Asbury Park, and elsewhere in Ocean and Monmouth County, we know that the key to a successful outcome in a custody battle is developing a strong argument for your parental fitness (and perhaps the other parent’s lack thereof), backed up by ample and diverse evidence. It is in your child’s best interest to spend as much time with you as possible while growing up, and we can help you make sure that happens. Contact us today at (732) 812-3102 for a free and confidential consultation regarding your case.