Can I Regain Child Custody after Rehab?

Rehab is a big step, but it’s a scary step. There are a lot of roadblocks to this all-important resource, and one of those may be concerns about child custody or childcare. So if your kids are at home, how do you make sure they’re cared for during rehab without losing custody? And if they’re in custody, how do you get them back?

Keeping Families Together

The Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) tries to keep families together whenever possible. Courts also do their best to keep families together. The Judicial Council of California operates from the policy that “the health, safety, and welfare of children be the court’s primary concern in determining the best interests of children when making orders regarding physical or legal custody or visitation of children. Unless it conflicts with the protection of a child’s health, safety, and welfare, it is also public policy to assure frequent and continuing contact with both parents.”1 Similar custody policies can be found in most states.

A child’s health, safety and best interests are always the primary concern, and governing bodies recognize that a child’s best interests are usually to be with his or her family.


Addiction and Custody Laws

However when one or more guardians struggles with active addiction, “home” is no longer the best, safest place for a child. The following are some of the drug-use related situations where you may lose custody or only receive limited or supervised custody:

  • An arrest on drug or alcohol-related charges
  • Failing a drug test after a report has been made to DCFS regarding neglect or mistreatment
  • Failing a drug test during custody hearings after separation or divorce

Courts will try not to separate parents from children unless it is determined that a parent is unfit to raise the child. Failing drug tests during legal procedures can cause courts to decide just that. However these decisions aren’t permanent, and there are ways to create a healthy you and a healthy home so you can be the parent your children deserve.


Regaining Custody after Rehab

If you’ve lost custody or are worrying about losing custody, one of the best things you can do is get help for yourself — so you can best help your child. Second chances exist, and they usually exist at the end of rehab and recovery.

Dallas Magazine explains, “There are few, if any, worthier causes for self-improvement than one’s own child(ren). If certain rights and powers of being a conservator are suspended and/or if supervised possession is ordered by the court, those orders can, and frequently do, modify after the party with a positive test proves a history or pattern of sobriety. Change is possible. It can happen if one works for it.”2

You can regain custody after rehab by proving your stay there, your participation in aftercare/continuing care and your sobriety. The length of time the process of regaining custody takes depends on the severity of the case and whether or not there was an arrest involved with drug-related criminal charges.

In cases involving drug or alcohol-related charges the court will make an evaluation of the case and decide whether or not to award custody following rehab. In cases that do not involve criminal charges, such as cases where the parent lost custody following a hearing or an intervention by the DCFS, if the parent has voluntarily entered and successfully completed rehab, the DCFS will be more likely to recommend returning custody to a parent.

Keep Your Family Together

Keep your family together, and keep everyone healthy and happy. Begin by getting treatment for yourself. If you have any questions about rehab, custody or your rights as a parent before and after treatment, reach out to Michael’s House today at 760-548-4032. We’ll help you take the next steps towards getting well and getting your children back.


1 Drug and Alcohol Testing in Child Custody Cases.” Judicial Council of California. Jul. 2007.

2 How Alcohol and Drug Allegations Can Impact Your Child Custody Case.” Dallas Magazine. 16 Sep. 2017.