Columbia Child Custody Lawyer

Columbia Child Custody Lawyer

Columbia Child Custody Attorney

Any situation involving child custody in Columbia, Maryland can get contentious and complicated. Many child custody cases arise when the parents decide to get divorced, but child custody matters can also occur between unmarried parents when there is a dispute over who will make important decisions about the child’s upbringing or how each parent will spend time with the child. Maryland law guides courts in making decisions about child custody, including both legal and physical custody.

If you are facing a child custody dispute, it is extremely important to have an experienced advocate on your side. A child custody case can be terrifying, especially since you are looking out for the best interests of your child. Although some family law cases can be handled without a lawyer, child custody cases should not be left to the judicial system without guidance from an experienced attorney. A Columbia child custody lawyer at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, PA, can discuss your situation with you today. We can closely examine your case and work with you to craft excellent arguments for the situation that is best for your child.

Understanding Legal and Physical Custody in Howard County

Maryland law recognizes two different kinds of child custody:

  • Legal custody
  • Physical custody

Legal custody refers to the parent’s right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing, but it does not refer to the time that a parent spends with the child. This type of custody allows for decisions on healthcare, education, and religious upbringing. Legal custody does not, however, apply to rights over non-legal matters like discipline or lifestyle choices. In most cases, the parents will share legal custody of their children, allowing both to participate in making important decisions for their child.

Physical custody, differently, refers to the amount of time that the parent spends with the child. It refers to your right to have your child in your home and determines which parent the child will reside with for what percentage of the time.

Maryland has no set rules regarding either parent automatically gaining custody of a child. Instead, the state makes all determinations in the best interests of the child. The following are all possible custody scenarios when there are two parents involved in a custody dispute:

  • Joint legal custody and shared physical custody
  • Sole legal custody and shared physical custody
  • Joint legal custody and sole physical custody
  • Sole legal custody and sole physical custody

In situations where one parent has sole physical custody, that parent is referred to as the “custodial” parent and the other parent is referred to as the “non-custodial” parent. The custodial parent is typically responsible for providing daily care to the children, including getting them to school, providing meals, and transporting them to extracurricular activities. When one parent exercises sole physical custody, the non-custodial parent still may be entitled to visitation.

Types of Visitation

Visitation refers to the right of the noncustodial parent to spend time with their child. This schedule may be worked out between the parents. If an amicable solution cannot be reached, an experienced family lawyer can mediate or create a fair agreement for court approval. Considerations for the type of visitation to be awarded will include the belief that it is best for both parents to see their children. However, it will also consider any history of domestic violence or child abuse.

The four types of child visitation in Maryland are:

  • Fixed Visitation Schedule: This type of schedule is best for parents who may not have the most functional relationship and want to minimize contact with each other. The visitation schedule will determine the exact dates and times the child will spend with each parent. There is little room for shifting the schedule, so the parents do not need to communicate with each other to determine when visitation will occur. An example of a fixed visitation schedule is the non-custodial parent having the child on weekends and Wednesdays after school until 7 p.m.
  • Flexible or Reasonable Visitation Schedule: This type of visitation schedule is best for parents who are on good terms following the divorce and can work together on the visitation schedule. The parents will need to take an active role in their child’s life and set up visitation specifics independently. It allows for greater flexibility in the visitation schedule. However, because the custodial parent has more control over when and where visitation occurs, it may allow for the system to be abused. An example of this would be switching typical visitation times if a major work project arises or a vacation is scheduled. The parent can then take their child outside of the regular visitation schedule.
  • Supervised Visitation Schedule: The court typically wants the child to retain a relationship with both parents. They may determine that supervised visitation is the best route for the child. This type of visitation allows the noncustodial parent to see their child, but only under the supervision of a counselor, social worker, or court liaison to guarantee the child’s safety. Supervised visitation is typically ordered in cases where the noncustodial parent has issues with violence, anger, alcoholism, or drug use. These visits will frequently occur at a visitation center and may also include supervision of the drop-offs to prevent contact between the parents.
  • No Visitation: Maryland courts rarely prevent any type of contact between a parent and child, so the circumstances must be severe for a judge to consider implementing a no-visitation order. This type of visitation states that it is not in the child’s best interests to see the noncustodial parent, as visitation would do more harm than good. For no-visitation orders, there must be proof that the noncustodial parent is a danger to the child, such as if there is a history of abuse. Depending on the circumstances, virtual visits may be an option for the noncustodial parent.

There are many considerations for the type of visitation schedule that is best for your child. Your main focus should be showing the court that your presence in their life is in the child’s best interest by portraying your love for your children and parental abilities. Although it may be difficult, one way to show the court you are a well-adjusted, responsible adult is by maintaining a cool, level head during custody, divorce, and visitation hearings.

Sometimes the best outcome for the present is not the best for the future. A modification request can be filed, asking the court to reevaluate the current visitation schedule in light of new information. For example, a parent who was in active addiction may have been granted supervised visitation years ago. If that parent has sought treatment and gotten sober, it is likely that only supervised visitation is no longer appropriate.

Best Interest of the Child Standard for Determining Columbia Child Custody

Maryland courts use the best interest of the child standard for determining whether parents will have joint custody. In determining whether joint custody is appropriate based on what is in the best interest of the child, the court looks at many different factors, including the following:

  • Capacity of parents to reach shared decisions about the child’s welfare
  • Willingness of parents to share custody
  • Fitness of the parents
  • Relationship established between the child and each of the parents
  • Child’s preference
  • Potential for disruption of child’s social and educational life
  • Geographic proximity of the parents’ homes
  • Parents’ employment demands
  • Age of the children
  • Number of children
  • Sincerity of parents’ request(s) for joint custody
  • Financial statute of the parents; and
  • Impact on state or federal assistance.

Prior to issuing a final custody order, courts typically issue an initial custody award that takes into account similar factors as those outlined above, as well as other issues such as abuse or abandonment.

Learning More About Child Custody

Custody laws will vary from state to state, so it is important to have full knowledge of the laws in Maryland. Although hiring an attorney is certainly the best way to get all the appropriate information to the judge for them to make a decision in the best interests of the child, there are other ways to learn more about how child custody works in our state. The Maryland court system has created an online course designed to help those who are thinking about filing for custody of a child or are currently in a child custody case.

Learn More from a Columbia Child Custody Lawyer

Child custody cases can be extremely difficult for all of the parties involved, from the parents to the child. The emotional toll of fighting a court battle with an uncooperative parent can be significant, so choosing an experienced lawyer can help remove some of that burden. A dedicated and compassionate child custody attorney in Howard County can get started on your case today. You must continue to live your life and meet your responsibilities, so let us take care of the legal aspect of your custody agreement. Contact the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, PA, online or by calling our Columbia office at 410-766-0113 for more information about the services we provide to families in Maryland.


Anne Arundel County

Empire Towers
7310 Ritchie Highway, Suite 910
Glen Burnie, MD 21061

Phone: 410-766-0113

Fax: 410-766-0270

Howard County On the grounds of Columbia Mall

30 Corporate Center
10440 Little Patuxent Parkway,
Suite 900
Columbia, MD 21044

Phone: 410-964-0050

Baltimore County (Arbutus/Catonsville)

Phone: 410-719-7377

Fax: 410-766-0270