How far can prenatal chemical endangerment go in child custody? | Lane & Lane, LLC
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How far can prenatal chemical endangerment go in child custody?

A law that was intended to help stop a state's methamphetamine problem does not distinguish between a drug addict mother who puts her unborn child in grave danger and a mother who takes a single Valium to calm her nerves and sleep. Child custody issues are rarely cut and dry. New Jersey parents may be interested in a recent challenge a mother in another state faces in keeping custody of her children 

In Aug. 2014, a woman in another state had a baby boy, who was four weeks premature but healthy and robust. The maternity nurse at the hospital took the newborn because they needed to test his urine. The mother had tested positive for benzodiazepines.The mother was dumbstruck at first, not believing that she could test positive for the drug. Then she recalled two instances during which she took half of her boyfriend's prescription Valium during the late stages of her difficult pregnancy.

The baby boy's test came out clean. He was healthy and did not show signs of exposure to the drug. After the family was dismissed from the hospital, a state child welfare organization reviewed the case and determined that the mother was not a drug abuser and did not take the baby away. However, a few weeks later when she was back at work, investigators from the local sheriff's department appeared and arrested her for chemical endangerment of the child.

The mother in this case already had a preschool-aged son with her ex-husband. She and her ex-spouse currently had an open child custody case when the arrest occurred. Now she faces losing custody of both children. New Jersey parents facing similar complex child custody issues may choose to seek  the help of experienced family lawyers who can help them fight for their rights.

Source: salon.com, "Take a valium, lose your kid, go to jail", Nina Martin, Sept. 29, 2015

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