Excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs are concerns raised very often during a divorce or separation. Worries around the child(ren) not being looked after properly by one or both parents come before the family courts on a daily basis.

Concerned parents often find it difficult to communicate directly and be reassured or take protective steps without support. They may wish to see a solicitor for advice or make an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order, mentioning in the application that they have concerns around alcohol and drugs consumption.

Too Much? How Much Is Too Much?

This is a question often raised by separated parents when they are concerned that their ex-partner is drinking while looking after their children. It’s difficult to answer. Some people can consume a few drinks and be relatively fine. Another person may consume the same amount of alcohol and become sleepy which could pose a risk to younger children if left unsupervised, or become louder, agitated or start to use bad language, all of which would be upsetting for children.

Alcohol And Drugs And Safeguarding

The key to all situations involving drug and alcohol use is to ensure the safety of the children and that they are not at risk of harm.

You will find lots of useful information and advice on this hub to support you in knowing what do next if you have concerns about your ex-partner and your children.

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External Resources


People with a drug user or drinker in the family often take months and even years to look for help. Adfam provides a place where families can take that first step and find information about where to get the expert support and advice they need.


Free and accurate information about drugs. They run a website full of free-to-access information, signposting and a helpline.


This organisation can help if you are concerned that you or someone you care about has a drinking problem. They outline the many ways to access support, advice or treatment.


Child Contact Centres are neutral places where children of separated families can enjoy contact with non-resident parents, and sometimes other family members, in a comfortable and safe environment. Every year, this national organisation, via its member centres, supports families and children in their local community.


Talking to children about drugs and alcohol. Guidance from the NSPCC.