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.
Maryland law recognizes two different kinds of child 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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
7310 Ritchie Highway, Suite 910
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
30 Corporate Center
10440 Little Patuxent Parkway,
Columbia, MD 21044