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Can an addicted parent retain custody of the kids?

Northwestern Pennsylvania has seen its share of casualties from the opiate epidemic just like the rest of the country.

The problem is so bad that last year advocates for child welfare petitioned state leaders to appoint a task force to focus on the unique issues facing the children of addicted parents.

Regardless of whether they are babies born addicted to opiates from in utero exposures or kids being reared by one or both addicted parents, the situation remains dire.

In the four-year period from 2010-2014, over 7,500 babies receiving Pennsylvania Medicaid benefits got diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome, according to a letter written by child advocates. Worse, the annual totals are almost twice as high when comparing the numbers in 2010 (1,080) to just four years later (1,970).

Most infants can — and do — survive this condition. But sadly, 61 infants in the study died in their first year of life. This raises questions about the quality of care these addicted parents are able to provide.

Even when not born addicted, children have died from ingesting illegal opiates or the maintenance medications their parents use to stay off street drugs. Still others die from neglect or misadventure due to improper supervision by drugged-out moms and dads.

If you are going through a divorce and struggle with addiction to illegal drugs, your parenting rights could be severely curtailed. It's far better to enter rehab and commit to living a sober lifestyle, attend 12-step programs and voluntarily submit to drug tests, than lose custody and be court-ordered into a program.

Your family law attorney can assist you with doing what you need to do to retain, or regain, custody rights to your children once you have addressed the underlying problem.

Source: PennLive, "Pa. seeing more heroin-addicted babies, abused children of addicted parents," David Wenner, accessed May 25, 2017

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