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Three steps to protecting kids from porn-addicted parents

If you share custody of a child with a porn addict, you may be concerned and afraid for your child. You may become especially panicked if your child is the age and gender that porn addicts enjoy.

Our child custody litigation clients come to us frustrated with family court.

Fortunately, through our work with us, they discovered that acting quickly can help children avoid the harmful effects of pornography.

You should start by educating yourself about addiction. Like drugs and alcohol, pornography offers a consistent, effortless path to enjoyment. These pleasant sensations are immediate, but also illusory. They quickly prove to be temporary and harmful. They make the abuser incapable of loving anyone, even himself and his children.

Like all addictions, porn can lead to a vicious cycle. The pleasure lasts only a few minutes. Then the user finds out that his illness is making him worse than before. The same trigger that caused him to use it the first time still compels him, but stronger. Therefore, he needs to be used repeatedly. He found that he needed greater stimulation to achieve the same orgasm.

Each successive use perpetuates his dependence until disease overwhelms his humanity. Almost all addicts misrepresent their priorities. They made bad choices about their values, which showed in the wrong use of time and money. They become poor parents. Some even look for opportunities to live out their real-life fantasies on real people.

If you find yourself in a child custody lawsuit with a porn addict, your strategy should take three steps. First, you prove that your co-parent is addicted. Second, you convince the court to care about his dependency. Third, you recommend that the court take specific actions to protect your child.

The first step requires you to prove that the addiction exists. Unlike drugs or alcohol, there are no chemical tests that can tell when someone is using pornography. However, you may be able to find evidence in credit card statements, computer records, and phone bills. When checking your computer, check not only the contents of your hard drive, but also your Internet browser’s history.

You can also ask the court to order him to undergo a psychological evaluation. Psychological assessments rely almost entirely on self-disclosure. He may be able to hide his OCD from the evaluators. Hopefully, though, he will use the assessment as an opportunity to seek help.

Once you’ve proven he’s addicted, you can move on to step two, convincing the court that he cares. Many families and their attorneys skip this crucial step. However, you cannot assume that your judge agrees with you that he is harmful to your child.

Different states employ different strategies when considering a parent’s moral fitness in custody proceedings. Louisiana, for example, contains an explicit statute requiring consideration of “the moral fitness of the parties so far as it affects the welfare of the child.” A Missouri appeals court held that a father’s viewing of pornography should be considered in determining child custody, but that factor alone was not decisive. A Florida court has ruled that a home sex business run by a mother’s boyfriend must have affected her comfort with her parents, even if the children themselves never saw his product.

Once you’ve proven the addiction and convinced the court to care, you can start step three: You tell the court exactly how to protect your child. If your child lives primarily with the addicted parent, you can ask the court to transfer custody and residency to you. You may ask the court to order the other parent not to display inappropriate items in the home when your child is visiting. You could even move the court to order his parenting time to be contingent on the medical situation. He could find a sex addict support group modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous.

For most issues involving child custody, it is best for you to protect your children outside of court. Ideally, your attorney can use the court process to persuade the other parent to seek help for his illness. If he loves your kids as much as he claims he should want to be the best parent they can be.

Dependence on porn can get worse over time. Act now, before your child is irreparably harmed. If you share custody with a porn addict, contact a family law attorney experienced in these issues immediately.

Copyright 2007 Scott Wasserman

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