Past substance abuse issues are not a total bar when it comes to prevailing in court in a child custody dispute. Courts in Texas and around the country like to encourage a healthy-parent child relationship and are unlikely to make rulings that prevent a parent from having access to their child. A court is likely instead to consider the recency of the substance abuse and if necessary, put safeguards in place, such as random drug testing or supervised visitation.
In family court matters such as custody and visitation, a judge's primary concern will always be with the best interests of the child. Clearly, substance abuse issues are going to be taken seriously. However, most judges also take into account that it is usually best for children to have as much time with both parents as possible. Similarly, mental issues and past domestic abuse issues will not bar a parent from seeking custody. Some parents can be very abusive to each other but still act like good parents when they are around the children. Even a failure to comply with a support order will not in most cases bar a parent from being allowed to see his or her children.
There is no one-size-fits-all rule for how a judge will handle a custody dispute. Judges must listen to the facts of each case very carefully and weigh various options with the consideration of what is best for the child being the primary concern.
A family law attorney representing a parent who is embroiled in a child custody dispute may attempt to seek a resolution through facilitating negotiations with the other parent. In some cases, going through mediation may be one way to handle these issues with a minimum of disruption to the child.