Family Law Treatment Court

In cases where a parent suffers from alcohol or drug addiction, there are a number of resources and programs that the Santa Clara County Superior Court has made available to help those individuals successfully recover from their addiction. As discussed in many of our other articles on our website, the Court’s number one concern when making rulings on issues impacting the children is the children’s best interests. The Court wants to ensure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents. However, it is imperative that the Court is able to make a finding that the children are safe when in a parent’s care. Where drug or alcohol addiction is at issue, it becomes necessary for the Court ensure that there are measures put in place to protect the children’s safety.

One of the programs put in place by the Santa Clara County Family Court, is the Family Law Treatment Program (FLTC). The FLTC is a great resource for a parent trying to get sober and put their addiction behind them. It is also a great resource for the other parent who wants to ensure that their child is safe in that parent’s care. One of the most important aspects of FLTC is that it is a voluntary program. The Court cannot force a parent to participate. Often times, FLTC will be suggested where the other parent makes allegations of substance abuse. If the judge believes that FLTC would be beneficial to that parent, he/or she will make a referral to the party and it is up to that party whether or not they choose to participate.

The program itself does not have a set duration, however, it usually takes most participants one year to complete the program. The requirements of the FLTC program include the following:

  • Enrolling in and successfully completing an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
  • Attending at least three twelve-step meetings at least three times per week. Such programs would include AA or NAA. As part of this requirement, the participant must provide sign-in sheets to the FLTC. An important caveat to this is that until a party has enrolled in an outpatient or inpatient program, he or she must attend five meetings a week.
  • The participant must successfully find a sponsor who can guide them through the twelve-step program. The sponsor must be someone who has been in recovery from their addiction for at least one year.
  • The participant must submit to random alcohol and drug testing at an approved lab or FLTC’s testing facility. A test that comes back positive for drug or alcohol consumption, or comes back dilute, will result in notices being sent out to all parties and attorneys involved. A positive or dilute test can result in suspension or termination from the program as well as emergency orders being made to modify any orders that are currently in place.
  • Attend FLTC court appearances. Missing a hearing may result in an immediate termination from the program.

If a participant fails to comply with any of the terms of the program, he or she will be at risk of being immediately removed from the program. This can have serious negative repercussions for the participant as it pertains to the custody and visitation aspect of their case. Specifically, the Court will have the ability to order that the participant’s visitation rights be suspended or professionally supervised. Alternatively, if a participant successfully graduates from the program, it can have a very positive impact on his/her pursuit for more time or more custody with their child.

Here are Mello & Pickering, LLP, with our combined 40 years of experience in family law, we have helped guide several clients through cases where addiction issues may arise. Our experience allows us to help ensure that you and your family receive the highest quality service possible throughout your divorce and/or custody/visitation case. Please call our office at (408) 288-7800 to set up your initial consultation.

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