On February 22, 2021, Governor Murphy signed bills to legalize recreational marijuana use by adults in New Jersey. But before you get any half-baked brownies, you should consider whether recreational marijuana use will impact your custody case.
To be blunt (pun intended), because recreational marijuana use is new territory in New Jersey, it remains to be seen how Courts will consider its use in custody cases. It may be treated similarly to recreational alcohol use. Courts should not discriminate against a parent by limiting parenting time solely on the basis of responsible use. The questions the Court should ask are: How does the recreational use affect the parent’s parenting skills? Does the use inhibit the parent from making wise parenting decisions during his or her parenting time? Does the use have a substantial adverse effect on the child? Nevertheless, the reality may be that marijuana is still associated with unflattering stereotypes.
In making determinations of custody and parenting time, though it is New Jersey public policy to ensure minor children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents, courts must consider the best interests of the child when making an award of custody. If your marijuana use affects your ability to create a stable environment and safely parent your child, your custody and parenting time may be impacted. Some questions you should ask yourself:
- If you are keeping marijuana in the household, is it in a safe, locked location out of the reach of children?
- If you use marijuana in cooking or baking, are you keeping it clearly labeled and away from children’s food?
- Do you use marijuana in the children’s presence?
- Do you publicly post about your marijuana use on social media?
- How does marijuana affect you and does it impact your fitness as a parent?
If you or your co-parent use recreational marijuana and you are worried it may impact your custody or parenting time, contact our Family Law Group at Cohn Lifland to develop a plan that works for your family.