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Why divorced parents should consider an alcohol monitoring system

If you're a divorcing parent who has had issues with alcohol, those issues are likely to factor into your custody and visitation agreement. Even if you've moderated your drinking or stopped completely, your co-parent may still be concerned for the safety and well-being of your kids if they're alone in your care.

Sometimes a court will recommend or even require that a parent with a history of alcohol abuse use an alcohol monitoring system if they want unsupervised access to their children. Other times, an attorney will recommend one of these systems as a way for a parent to be able to see their children more frequently.

It's natural to respond to the prospect of using an alcohol monitoring tool, which is similar to a Breathalyzer, with some resentment. However, there are a number of advantages to agreeing that are worth considering.

First, it can help your co-parent trust you. The monitoring system provides objective evidence that you don't have alcohol in your system. Test results are reported to whoever is designated to receive them -- for example, the co-parent, court officials and/or social service professionals. The longer you use the system with no signs of alcohol consumption, the more your co-parent will likely come to trust you.

Even if they don't, you'll gain evidence to present to the court and other third parties that you can refrain from drinking for the sake of your children. Some people use the system only around their parenting time, while others use it for daily testing.

Further, by agreeing to use an alcohol monitoring system, you're improving your chances of remaining sober -- at least around your children. Having this kind of accountability can be the incentive many people need to resist temptation.

If your children are old enough to understand that you have issues with alcohol, it may help them to know that you have agreed to this testing so that you can spend more time with them and be the parent they need. That may be the most important reason of all to cooperate fully with alcohol monitoring.

If you have questions about what's involved in an alcohol monitoring system and how it can improve your chances for unsupervised visitation or shared custody, your attorney can provide more information.

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