Protecting Children’s Safety: The Divorce Court’s Awesome Power

New York Law Journal, November 2, 2023 ●

Alan R. Feigenbaum ●

In 2016, ESPN’s 30 for 30 series released “Doc and Darryl,” a documentary profile of the former New York Mets legends Dwight “Doc” Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.

In that documentary, Bob Forrest—identified as an addiction specialist—delivers the following, harrowing words on the issue of substance abuse: “In the end, if you don’t realize how $%@! up you are being a drug addict, you’re probably going to keep $%@! up.”

Outside of divorce practice, some of us have lived the terribly sad experience of trying to help someone who succumbs to substance abuse who does not himself/herself come to the realization that Forrest spoke of in Doc and Darryl.

As divorce lawyers, many of us have crossed paths with this phenomenon as well, which often times manifests itself in the form of a client who, despite handwriting on the wall type evidence of a substance abuse problem, remains adamant that “there is nothing wrong with me.”

When children of divorce find themselves in a situation where one, or both parents, suffer from substance abuse problems, trial judges in matrimonial cases are faced with the daunting task of establishing appropriate protocols to ensure that those same children are kept safe.

Such was the case in the matter of SG v. MG, NY Slip Op 51063(U) (Supreme Court, Nassau County, Oct. 5, 2023) (Dane, J.), where the court had to confront how to address a party’s continued use of Adderall in the context of safeguards surrounding access with the parties’ children.

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