When a person is going through a divorce or separation, there are so many things that happen at once that it can all be overwhelming. However, few things become more emotional and stressful during a divorce than issues surrounding a couple's minor children.
The Arizona Family court system will always put the child's best interests first. We know that, as parents, that is your wish as well. However, there are times when two spouses do not agree on what is best for their children and end up in drawn-out custody cases. One thing we want to discuss with you is the use of marijuana and how it can affect your custody case. If you are going through a divorce, please seek assistance from a skilled and experienced Arizona family law attorney to help you get through this.
Is Marijuana That Bad?
When it comes to drug usage in Arizona, we need to let you know that it is illegal unless you have an MMJ card acquired under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). Possession of the drug is a felony and comes with potentially stiff criminal penalties.
In a contested child custody battle, you will often find that both sides will use anything they can against the other spouse in order to gain the upper hand. This includes telling the courts about their spouse's use of marijuana. That will ultimately lead to an evaluation by child services and likely required drug tests. Any abuse of alcohol or illegal drug use can mean that a spouse will be granted custody.
What About Medical Marijuana?
If a person has acquired an MMJ card, the situation is different. In order for a person to legally obtain and use marijuana in Arizona, they must have their doctor fill out the appropriate forms so they can obtain an MMJ card. This allows the card carrier to have a certain amount of marijuana in their possession at a time. The marijuana must also be obtained from a legal dispensary.
The AMMA was written with child custody and visitation in mind. The AMMA specifically states that:
"No person may be denied custody of or visitation or parenting time with a minor, and there is no presumption of neglect or child endangerment for conduct allowed under this chapter, unless the person's behavior creates an unreasonable danger to the safety of the minor as established by clear and convincing evidence."
If a person is following all provisions of the AMMA, they cannot be denied custody or visitation, even if they test positive for marijuana metabolites in their system. However, as is the case in any scenario, if a person's behavior creates a danger for the child, they can be denied their custody rights.
The bottom line is this - if you do not have an MMJ card to legally purchase and use marijuana, use of the drug is illegal and will harm your attempts to gain custody of your children.
What Happens Next?
We know that divorce is complicated, especially when there are issues of child custody and child support involved. Your first step needs to be to secure a qualified Arizona family law attorney to help you through the process. If you expect that the use of marijuana, whether legal or illegal, is going to become a part of the case, you need to have a skilled attorney by your side to help you through the process. You need someone who understands the law by your side to ensure that you are being treated fairly at all times.