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Pot-using parents may pay high price of divorce

With the recent legalization of small amounts of recreational marijuana in Colorado, there's hardly a legal situation or relationship that won't in some way be reformed by the increasing presence of the drug in everyday life. Divorce, and other matters of family law, are destined to be directly impacted by marijuana's partial legalization; those who are considering getting a divorce or are currently unsure of their marriage will want to take heed of pot's new role in court proceedings.

Although the drug has become legalized in small quantities, spouses and parents are sure to have a variety of disparate opinions on the proper way to approach marijuana. A parent who approaches the drug as being no different than the occasional (or even regular) after-dinner drink may meet strong opposition from the rest of the family.

For many decades a parent's use of drugs has had a strong bearing on the determination of fault, child custody, and asset division during divorce. Now, however, the legal status of marijuana may frustrate the status quo image of drug use impairing one's ability to provide and parent in a responsible manner.

If a parent is a regular marijuana user but can demonstrate that he or she can keep the drug away from the presence of children, spouses, attorneys, and judges alike may have no choice but to view getting high now and then as akin to the tempered, recreational drinking that is commonplace in many Colorado homes.

Custody agreements of the future may include intermittent drug testing to police a mother or father's use of marijuana while children are being cared for, and a profitable, legal growing operation in a family's basement may become contested property during separation negotiations.

Simply put, it is still unclear just how wide and potent of an impact legal marijuana, its use, and its growing will have on future Colorado divorces.

In such a situation, however, the last thing a parent and/or spouse should do is rely on hearsay or assumptions when considering or confronted with a divorce. Working closely with a family law attorney can clear up any questions about what role legal drug can play in the courtroom, as well as improve the overall likelihood of a favorable settlement.

Source: Denverpost, "Parenting and pot: Colorado divorce lawyers' perspective on marijuana legalization," Alexandra White and Carolyn Witkus," Jan. 27, 2013

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