Approaching a Maryland Child Custody Case When Your Child’s Other Parent Has Drug, Alcohol, Mental Health or Other Personal Issues

The scenario is a familiar one for a lot of people. You meet someone and fall in love. Your partner has issues, but you rationalize them away. “She’s not perfect, but who is?” or “He’s got his problems, but I can change him,” you might say. So you get married and have kids. Then the relationship breaks down and you are confronted by your spouse’s issues… be they alcohol, drugs, mental health, domestic abuse or something else. You’re also confronted by the fact that, at this point, your primary goal needs to be protecting your children. When that happens to you, make sure you’ve retained an experienced Maryland family law attorney to ensure that you’re doing everything properly to use the legal system for the maximum protection of your children.

C.W. was one of those parents with that kind of family law problem. He and his wife, T.T., had a child together shortly after they wed. After the marriage, the wife began displaying anger management issues. She also resumed contact with an ex-boyfriend who had a history of abusing heroin and abusing T.T.

After the marriage broke down, a custody battle ensued. During that custody case, the father wisely had an attorney the entire time. At the court hearing, the father’s attorney put on multiple witnesses, including T.T.’s former work supervisor. In that hearing, the husband was able to present evidence that the mother had moved seven times in the preceding five years, including West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Utah.

The mother’s former supervisor testified that T.T. tested positive for Suboxone, which is a drug used to treat opioid addiction. The supervisor demanded that T.T. provide a prescription for the opioid drug, but T.T. only came up with prescriptions for an antidepressant and a smoking-cessation drug, which caused the employer to terminate T.T. According to the father’s sister, the mother had previously stated that she was bipolar and had been hospitalized previously.

Evidence of possible drug abuse and mental health problems

That evidence of possible drug abuse, personal instability and mental health issues was enough for C.W. to win his case. Even though both legally were fit parents, the judge ruled that the couple was unable to share custody, so the court was required to pick one parent. The father’s persuasive proof convinced the judge that he should have sole legal custody and primary physical custody. The mother received visitation every other weekend and one weeknight per week.

The mother appealed but did not succeed. The appeals court ruled that the father’s legal team presented ample evidence in the hearing to support what the trial judge ruled. The law gives trial judges very wide discretion to make determinations about what is or is not in the best interests of a child based on the evidence put before them at trial, which is why it is so important to make sure you are putting on your strongest possible case at your initial trial court hearing. For C.W., his legal team had that kind of strong presentation, so he succeeded.

If you have children, there’s probably nothing more important than protecting their well-being in a child custody arrangement. Sometimes, sadly, that may mean protecting them from a parent who is mentally unwell, battling untreated addiction or otherwise personally unstable and unable to provide a proper home for a child. To make sure you are doing that in the most effective way possible, count on the knowledgeable Maryland family law attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC. Our attorneys have extensive experience helping parents manage the Maryland child custody legal process… and getting the positive outcomes their families need. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.

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