With marijuana legalization having passed yesterday in at least 7 more states, including Florida, America is on the cusp of a new era, much like the ending of alcohol prohibition, but with the added health benefits of marijuana that alcohol lacks. While these new laws will no doubt have a tremendous impact by freeing individuals from many of the criminal consequences of using, growing, and possessing marijuana, it is also likely that marijuana reform will have an effect on family law issues such as divorce and child custody.
Less Arrests = Less Divorces
One of the greatest ways marijuana legalization could impact divorce is simply due to the fact that less couples will be torn apart due to one or both spouses being arrested and incarcerated for possessing a plant. Criminal activity of a spouse is frequently cited as one of the factors towards a couple’s eventual split, with marijuana crimes being among the most common. In fact, according to an article published in the New York Times, arrests for small amounts of marijuana outnumbered those for all violent crimes in 2015, despite growing education about the medical benefits of marijuana and changing laws and social attitudes. This is ludicrous considering the medical benefits and overall harmlessness of the plant.
Like any other type of arrest or criminal conviction, marijuana crimes can carry a myriad of short- and long-term criminal consequences, all of which can place a considerable strain on a couple’s marriage. If marijuana was legalized across the board, arrests for low-level cannabis crimes would be drastically reduced, sparing families from the associated stress and scrutiny of a parent’s criminal record.
Will Marijuana Affect My Child Custody Battle?
While decriminalizing marijuana for personal or medical use may give couples less reasons to split, this does not mean that it will not have an impact on divorce proceedings. It is important to remember that regardless of your state’s particular laws, marijuana is still ridiculously classified as an illegal Schedule I controlled substance under FEDERAL law, putting it into the same category as heroine and mescaline.
Marijuana has proven to help children with epilepsy lower their number of seizures of day and live without having to suffer daily. It also has helped people suffering from cancer, PTSD and many other health issues. While it simply should not be in the same category as heroine and mescaline, the federal law has yet to be changed. This can play a considerable role in regards to child custody.
Family courts issue custody decisions with the best interests of the child in mind. While family courts may have little say regarding a parent’s personal choice to use marijuana, some judges may consider it as a factor to determine whether one spouse is able to provide a safe and stable environment for the child. Although not physically addictive or destructive like alcohol, a judge may consider marijuana worse or equal to other much more harmful drugs simply because of it’s current federal categorization.
Other factors the courts will consider include:
- Each parent’s employment situation
- The child’s home environment
- The child’s accessibility to marijuana
Dealing with a Marijuana-Related Family Issue?
At Pazos Law Group, our Broward County divorce lawyers have handled countless complex family issues for clients throughout South Florida and can provide the trusted guidance you need to sort through your specific situation with ease. Backed by a prestigious AV® Preeminent™ Rating by Martindale-Hubbell® and a “Superb” Avvo Rating for our unmatched client satisfaction and skill, you can choose us with confidence knowing your case is sure to be in excellent hands.
Call (954) 719-5557 or get in touch with us online today to get started.