Challenges in Child Custody Cases: Substance Abuse in Maryland

Thank you for joining me. My name is LaSheena Williams and I am a Maryland family law attorney. My firm helps our clients take control of out-of-control domestic situations. Today, we will be discussing alleged substance abuse in Child Custody hearings in Maryland.

Allegations Alone May Not Be Enough in Montgomery County, Maryland and Prince George’s County, Maryland

Sometimes your co-parent may allege that you have alcohol or other types of substance abuse. These allegations may be true or these allegations may be made purely to impact a child custody determination. An allegation alone may not be sufficient for the court to consider that allegation and for it to impact your custody determination. If, however, your partner has actual evidence of substance abuse, it’s important that you consider that and you take that very seriously and you handle those allegations and that proof very clearly and thoroughly. 

Testing Can Be Beneficial 

If your co-parent alleges that you have substance abuse issues, it’s important that you consider doing informal testing. You can do at home testing or you could do testing through a facility. If you are testing negative for these substances that your spouse alleges you are abusing, it shows the court that you’re taking those allegations seriously and that you don’t actually have a problem or there’s no real current record that you have a problem. If, however, you decide that you don’t want to actually do testing, it doesn’t necessarily negatively impact your case but it makes it very hard for the court to know if you do or don’t have an actual abuse issue. The problem with the court not being sure but also having evidence is that they may be more conservative about what type of access they are willing to order for you. If you don’t want the allegation of abuse to impact you, it’s important that you take it seriously and you strongly consider getting tested and showing that you test negative so that the court knows or the court can at least see that you have a track record of not having an abuse issue. 

Wording In Agreements Matter

If you and your partner agree on what the terms of future testing will be regarding abuse of substances, it’s important to understand the language in your agreement or order. You don’t want to agree to language that’s more restrictive than your agreement. You also don’t want to agree to language that can negatively impact your life if there are no allegations for those substances but now you are prevented from testing positive for those substances. If, for example, your partner alleges that you have a narcotics addiction but they also include no alcohol consumption and the language for your order or agreement, if you test positive for alcohol even though that was never really an issue that may impact your custody and that may give your opposing party an opportunity to seek a modification for custody and access in the future.

Collateral Witnesses Matter

If you have witnesses such as people who live with you whether it’s a parent or a partner and they have seen you frequently and they don’t believe you have an alcohol or substance abuse issue and that you don’t pose a danger to your children, you may want to bring them to court to testify regarding what they know about your character, your contact with any alcohol or drugs so that the court knows that there’s at least people vouching for you and that you have a support system even if you had a prior issue with substance abuse. 

Contact An Experienced Maryland Family Law Attorney Today For Your Custody Case In Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, Maryland

If you have any questions about Substance Abuse issues in Child Custody hearings or any other domestic related matters please feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel. Please also feel free to give us a call at (301) 778-9950 to speak with an attorney today.