On December 4, 2013, Allison C. Williams will be presenting to the Haydn Proctor Inns of Court. The presentation topic will be Substance Abuse and the Family Law Client.
This issue greatly impacts our society. Many assumptions are made about addiction and parenting that cause difficulty for family court judges. Should addiction cause an immediate removal of children? When is excessive alcohol consumption “abuse” verses “addiction”? How do family law attorneys differentiate a substance disorder Axis I diagnosis from episodic abuse? When does addiction implicate greater mental health concerns (depression, anxiety, mania, etc.)?
For attorneys, addiction implicates a greater responsibility to the client than merely zealously advocating his or her position (custody, reunification, etc.). For attorneys, addicted clients require guidance, information and assistance. However, what is to be done when an addicted client insists upon a course of action that may be harmful to the client? A course that may be harmful to the client’s child? What if the attorney has devised a strategy that may achieve the client’s litigation goals, while jeopardizing his or her sobriety?
These questions and many more will be addressed at the Inns of Court presentation. It will take place from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the American Hotel.
Allison, what great news. Important information that has needed distinction for far too long. You are beyond advocating, you are prompting educators, dcpp caseworkers, family court attorneys and judges to examine the various components of the confusing, unclear and undefined issue.
Thank you so much for your efforts to defend innocent families and their children from the unethical injustices of an agency with substandard protocols of practice.
I would LOVE to attend, and hope that it will not be several hours away from southern NJ.
Sent you a referral via my SW practice.
You should be hearing from her this week.
In my experience advocating for clients who have had issues with drugs use, drug and alcohol evaluations rarely ever result in a label of “abuse”. The label is always “addiction” and the reasons for that are money that comes to vendors and to the state/county that comes with prolonged Dependency cases.
Kevin, I have recently bad multiple clients referred for Level 1 substance abuse treatment because the agency will no longer pay for Level .5 (i.e., substance abuse education, not treatment). I contacted the director and advised that my client was willing to pay for the appropriate course, but the evaluation’s over-pathologizing him was unacceptable. In response (off the record), the Director admitted feeling pressure to identify some form of problem so as not to piss off the agency and lose the thousands of referrals they receive each year.
He asked, “Treatment can’t hurt, can it?” I explained that “treatment” absolutely can hurt… because it signals to the judge that a problem exists where there is none. This usually delays reunification, emotionally harming children, and financially and emotionally depleting parents. Unfortunately, even the most cautious of LCADC’s will default to Level I treatment.
This is so sad but it was bound to happen. Just like with money in politics corrupting the process, money in child welfare has as well, especially with fee for service agencies who contract through child welfare agencies and derive a significant amount of their quarterly and yearly revenues from these contracts. Thank you for responding to my comment..