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 MarylandA 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 fitnessmental healthfinancial ability to support the childhistory of child abuse or abandonmentability to communicate with each otherwillingness to share custodyother children living in the homeSubstance Abuse Impacts Custody DeterminationsIf 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 ModificationSubstance 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.