Over the past several years, the opioid epidemic has raged all across the country. Few places have been hit harder than communities in Maryland. According to the most recent data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Maryland is among the top five states for opioid-related overdose deaths. This substance abuse problem affects people of all different backgrounds— including many parents.
A severe opioid addiction can make a parent unfit to care for a child. An addict parent is a legitimate safety issue for children. This is why the opioid epidemic is a family law matter. Here, our compassionate Maryland family law attorneys provide an overview of what parents and relatives need to know about drug addiction and child removal.
The Best Interests of the Child: Drug Addiction is a Relevant Factor
Under Maryland law, family law courts make child custody and child visitation decisions based on the state’s ‘best interests of the child’ legal standard. In practice, this means that the wishes of parents are always secondary: the health, safety, and psychological well-being of the child always comes first.
In determining what type of custody or visitation arrangement will be appropriate in any given case, Maryland family law courts review a number of different factors, including the fitness of each parent. If a parent is addicted to opioids or to any other controlled substance, that calls into question his/her ability to provide an adequate, safe environment for the child.
Certainly, this means that illicit opioid use is relevant in active child custody or child visitation disputes. However, opioid addiction is an issue in many other circumstances as well — there are legal remedies available for parents, grandparents and other relatives who want to temporarily or permanently take care of the child of an addicted parent.
Parents and Relatives Can Take Action to Protect an At-Risk Child
A parent who is suffering from a serious drug addiction is unlikely to be able to provide proper care for a child. If this has been demonstrated, the state of Maryland may remove the child from the parent’s care. The child’s other parent as well as other concerned relatives may be able to take action to provide protection for the at-risk kid. If you you see a child in this situation, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced Maryland family law attorney. She will review the specific nature of the case in order to determine what steps should be taken to:
- Protect the health and safety of the vulnerable child;
- Protect your family law rights as a parent, grandparent, or other relative; and
- If possible, help you get your drug addicted loved one assistance.
When children are under the care of an opioid addicted parent, it is always a time sensitive issue. You should take action without delay.
Call Maryland Family Law Attorney Tara K. Frame
At Frame & Frame, LLC, our Maryland child custody lawyers are strong, compassionate advocates for our clients. If you have any questions or concerns about drug addiction and child removal — whether you are a parent, a grandparent, or another relative — we can help.
To arrange a free, strictly confidential consultation, please contact our law firm today. With offices in Pasadena and Stevensville, we serve communities throughout the region, including in Anne Arundel County and Queen Anne’s County.