When children are involved, child custody is often the most contentious aspect of a divorce. Divorce can be a difficult and emotional time for any parent, but if one parent suffers from alcoholism, it becomes vastly more complicated. 

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 5.8% of American adults have an alcohol use disorder, and this is expected to grow based on increased alcohol sales amid coronavirus. When it comes to divorce and child custody, children’s safety is paramount; can an alcoholic parent provide a safe environment for a child? Are they truthful about their drinking habits?

If you are a parent who wants to protect your children from the risks of parental alcohol abuse by the other parent, you must prove that the other partner has a drinking problem.


How to Prove Alcohol Abuse by a Parent

Some of the most common ways to prove that a parent has an alcohol problem in a child custody battle include:


1. Witness Testimony 

Witness testimony may be used to substantiate alcohol abuse claims. Strong witnesses are people other than the non-alcoholic parent who have observed:

  • The parent drinking excessively around the child
  • The parent admitting having an alcohol problem
  • The parent behaving recklessly or driving while intoxicated
  • The parent becoming angry or abusive when intoxicated


2. The EtG Test:

An ethyl glucuronide (EtG) test can be used to detect the presence of the intoxicating agent in alcohol in a person’s urine, blood, hair, or nails. They are helpful indicators of binge or chronic drinking because a positive EtG test result indicates that a parent consumed multiple drinks in a short period of time or consumed alcohol at a high frequency. 

However, an EtG test on its own does not prove that a parent consumed alcohol irresponsibly while in custody of the children. 


3. The PEth Test:

A PEth test measures the level of phosphatidylethanol, an alcohol biomarker, found in a person’s blood following the consumption of alcohol. This test is often favored in family law cases because the results cannot be altered or interfered with. Like an EtG test, a PEth test only detects alcohol abuse or binge drinking.


Do You Have Questions About Child Custody and Alcoholism?

Alcohol abuse and binge drinking are complex issues in child custody cases.  If you feel like you and your spouse are approaching divorce and your spouse suffers from alcoholism, contact a divorce attorney about your rights and options. 

At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Family law attorney Trinity Hundredmark has over a decade of experience representing clients divorcing in Georgia. For more information, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.