Could ‘Mama June’ Shannon’s arrest on Mar. 13 put her in danger of losing custody of daughter, ‘Honey Boo Boo’ Thompson, 13, to ex ‘Sugar Bear’ Thompson? A Georgia lawyer EXCLUSIVELY tells HL what she can expect.
June “Mama June” Shannon, 39, and her boyfriend of three years, Geno Doak, were shockingly arrested at an Alabama gas station for drug possession (believed to be crack cocaine) & possession of drug paraphernalia on Mar. 13, and now a lawyer in Georgia, where June lives, is EXCLUSIVELY telling HollywoodLife whether the arrest could affect June’s full custody of 13-year-old daughter, Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson.
“This could certainly impact the parties’ child custody litigation,” Jonathan V. Dunn P.C., GA state family law attorney, EXCLUSIVELY told us. “Evidence of substance abuse is expressly identified as a factor for the Court’s consideration in determining the best interests of the child, which is the ultimate issue in deciding child custody cases. However, this is not dispositive as there are several other factors which may counterbalance this incident, such as the following: the love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between the child and his or her siblings, half siblings, and step siblings and the residence of such other children; the importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity; each parent’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the child’s educational, social, and extracurricular activities.”
We previously reported that Alana’s father, Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson, 47, whose relationship with June ended in 2011, is hoping his ex’s arrest will give him the opportunity to see his daughter more and maybe even lead to him gaining full custody of her. A source previously told us that June currently has sole legal custody and primary physical custody of Alana, and Mike only has visitation rights. Dunn says June’s arrest alone, though, may not be enough to make the custody change Mike hopes for, especially if Alana is doing well with June. “If the child is thriving in the status quo, an isolated incidence of substance abuse may not be sufficient to persuade the Court that it is in the child’s best interest to change custody,” he explained.
Dunn elaborated further by explaining whether or not a conviction could increase the chances of June losing custody of Alana. “While a conviction would certainly intensify her exposure, the absence of a conviction, or even an acquittal, will not be exculpatory in this context,” he said. “This is because it is necessary for the prosecutor to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction in the criminal trial; whereas, evidence of substance abuse need only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence (meaning more likely than not) in order to be properly taken into consideration in the custody case.”
“However, as indicated above, if the balance of factors predominate in favor of maintaining the status quo, it is unlikely that a change of custody will be granted,” Dunn continued. “Moreover, there are ample rehabilitative measures that can be taken to mitigate the impact of this event and demonstrate ongoing fitness such as submitting to a substance abuse evaluation and counseling as well as a steady regimen of clean drug screens.”
Would Child Protective Services (CPS) come into play in a case like June’s? Dunn says it’s not likely. “Unless the child was directly impacted by the incident (i.e., present or unsupervised at the time of the arrest or otherwise found to be abused or neglected), it is unlikely that CPS, known in Georgia as the Department of Family and Children Services (“DFCS” \dee faks\), would be engaged,” he admitted.
In addition to Alana, June has three other children (none of which are underage) from previous relationships, including Anna Marie “Chickadee” Cardwell, 24, Jessica Louise “Chubbs” Shannon, 22, and Lauryn Michelle “Pumpkin” Shannon, 19.