We normally think of child custody cases in Georgia as involving two parents fighting over children they had together at a happier time during their relationship. When the parents can't agree on how the time with the children should be split, a court ultimately decides with the best interest of the children in mind.
But child custody cases can also involve the county or another government agency that questions the fitness of one or both parents. A recent investigation in New York revealed that some parents were in danger of losing their children over possession of small amounts of marijuana, so small in fact, that it did not even amount to a criminal violation.
Possession of 25 grams of marijuana, which reportedly is enough for about 20 to 30 marijuana cigarettes, is treated like a traffic infraction in New York, punishable by a fine of $100. Furthermore, marijuana is considered to be the most commonly used illicit drug in New York City, so why are children being taken away following a charge?
One Bronx woman was discovered to have had about 10 grams of marijuana when authorities searched her apartment last year. Though the amount was not enough for even a criminal violation, the matter was reported to Child Protective Services (CPS).
CPS subsequently arrived and took custody of the woman's son for a full week. Also, a niece that lived with her in a foster care arrangement was removed from the home for one year.
Some say that while marijuana use is twice as prevalent among whites as it is among blacks and Latinos, these harsh CPS actions seem aimed at black and Latino families. One individual observed that the public rarely hears of such a petition filed against non-minority parents.
Most often, the child is returned to the family after an investigation conducted in the effort to determine the best interests of the child. While very few of these cases result in permanent loss of parental rights, the punishment is still very severe.
In Georgia, a family law attorney experienced in helping families confront child custody issues may be able to answer questions about legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to minor infractions with the law or CPS involvement.