Divorce With Children & a Drug Addicted Spouse in Maryland

By Kevin Owen

There are two types of child custody in Maryland: physical custody and legal custody. A parent with physical custody is responsible for day-to-day decisions while the child is living with him; whereas a parent with legal custody makes long-term decisions regarding the child's education, religion, medical care and other major life issues. Although either parent may establish custody rights, drug addiction of a parent may be cause for a court to deny parental rights.

Factors Determining Custody

There is no automatic presumption of joint custody between parents under Maryland law. Rather, Maryland courts determine parental custody based on a myriad of factors, including the preference of the child, financial and employment status of the parent, impact on the child's schooling, and other considerations affecting the daily life of the child. As a parent's character, reputation and fitness are considered by the court when determining custody rights, a parent's addiction to illegal drugs may adversely affect her parental rights.

Best Interest of the Child

Maryland courts determine custody and visitation rights based on the best interest of the child. Therefore, when weighing the factors, the judge attempts to predict the future needs of the child and the parent's ability to meet those needs. If a parent has a substance abuse problem, the judge may take any drug abuse into great consideration when concluding whether he is fit to meet the needs of the child.

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Maryland state law provides several ways in which a parent's drug abuse may come to the attention of the courts. If a child is born to a mother who is addicted to drugs, the hospital is obligated to report the substance abuse to state officials who may initiate proceedings restricting parental rights. A divorcing spouse may also raise the other parent's drug addiction when contesting child custody. If a parent is seeking sole custody due to allegations of substance abuse, she must be able to establish the other parent's drug use by a preponderance of the evidence.

Impact of Drug Abuse

Complete denial of parental rights is rare in Maryland even if sole custody is granted due to the other parent's substance abuse. The court may likely grant the noncustodial parent visitation rights, often with requirements for supervision and drug testing to ensure the safety of the child. As child custody arrangements may be altered if there is a change of circumstances, a parent who is initially denied custody rights may be granted rights in the future if he is able to show he no longer has a substance abuse issue.

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Child Custody & Loss of Parental Rights From Drug Abuse


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Continuous Addiction & Child Custody

Habitual dependence on drugs or alcohol can call into question a person's ability to make good decisions, as well as the safety of his or her home environment. If the addicted individual is also a parent, the welfare of any child under that parent's supervision may be at risk. Although specific laws pertaining to substance abuse can vary between states, all custody decisions must be shown promote the best interests of the child. Knowing how evidence of continuous addiction may affect parental rights in your case will help remove some of the confusion in the custody process.

Can My Wife Get Custody of Our Kids If She Is Bipolar and We Get Divorced?

Bipolar disorder can be managed effectively with ongoing professional treatment. Thus, many women with this condition can parent their children successfully and obtain custody during a divorce. However, mothers with bipolar disorder can experience significant impairments. For example, in the manic phase, a woman with bipolar disorder might act impulsively without thinking through the consequences of her choices. Likewise, a mother experiencing a depressive phase might not be able to hold down a job, prepare meals for her family or care for her children’s basic needs. Any of these effects of bipolar disorder can make it difficult for a woman to obtain custody during a divorce.

How Does Spouse Abuse Affect Child Custody?

Courts and parents alike want to keep children safe from harm. In determining the custody arrangement following a divorce, courts are primarily concerned with what is in the best interest of the child. As a result, a history of abuse by a parent, particularly if the history is documented, may be highly influential in the outcome of a custody case.

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