Legalized Recreational Marijuana: Does It Impact My Custody Case?

As of April 21, 2022, adults who are aged 21 and older can purchase marijuana in New Jersey.  However, before you get in line at your local licensed dispensary, you should consider whether and how recreational marijuana use may impact your custody case.

In August of 2021, the Appellate Division held in New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. D.H. that recreational marijuana cannot serve as the sole or primary reason to terminate parental rights.  However, our Courts routinely consider the potential impact of the parents’ use of legal cannabis on the children as part of the best interests analysis inherent in all custody matters.  The Court may ask, for example: 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 or when asked to participate in joint legal custody decisions? Does the use substantially and adversely affect the child? 

Even though it is New Jersey public policy to ensure minor children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents, 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 or marijuana products such as candies or cookies in the household, is it in a safe, locked location out of the reach of the children?
  • If you use marijuana in cooking or baking, are you keeping it clearly labeled and away from the 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.