Primarily, family courts in Maryland consider the best interests of the child when establishing custody arrangements. To ensure that the arrangements are in the child’s best interest, courts consider several factors such as the health of each parent and their ability to care for the child.
Substance abuse may affect a parent’s chances of gaining custody – judges often award sole custody to the parent who exhibits greater stability and may even order supervised visitation until the parent who is struggling with addiction has met certain criteria. The Baltimore County child custody lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC provide experienced legal counsel on a wide range of family law issues, including cases involving child custody and substance abuse.
Considerations for Child Custody in Maryland
A judge may determine custody arrangements for the child if the parents have not come to a negotiated agreement. Generally, there are two types of custody: physical and legal. Legal custody grants a parent the right to make decisions on behalf of the child regarding education, religion, medical treatment, and other major issues. Physical custody refers to where and with whom the child will live. One parent may be granted physical custody of the child or each parent may spend a predetermined amount of time with the child according to an established visitation schedule.
Maryland courts take several factors into account when making custody arrangements. To determine what is in the best interest of the child, the court considers each parent’s:
- physical fitness
- mental health
- financial ability to support the child
- history of child abuse or abandonment
- ability to communicate with each other
- willingness to share custody
- other children living in the home
Substance Abuse Impacts Custody Determinations
If the issue of a parent’s substance abuse is raised during a child custody hearing, the court may consider it as part of the parent’s mental health and ability to care for the child. Generally, courts will look to the type, length, and severity of the addiction as well as any prior rehabilitation attempts or relapses. If the court determines that a parent’s substance abuse puts the child at risk, it may order supervised visitation or grant sole custody to the other parent. If both parents struggle with substance abuse, custody may be granted to a third party.
Grounds for Custody Modification
Substance abuse may affect parental rights at the time of divorce or after a custody arrangement has already been made. If the court learns of a parent’s substance abuse issue after a custody arrangement has been made, it may suspend visitation pending a drug test result or modify the original custody agreement. Parental rights may be restored in the future if the parent can show that he or she no longer has a substance abuse problem, typically by completing a substance abuse recovery program.
Baltimore County Child Custody Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Parents Understand Their Rights
If you have any questions regarding child custody, contact a Baltimore County child custody lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Our experienced attorneys can help explain your legal rights and options. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 443-589-0150.
From our offices conveniently located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we represent clients in in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Columbia, Freeland, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks, Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.