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Maryland parents on equal footing in family courts

One possible misconception in Maryland is that family courts favor women. Yet, according to recent statistics, mothers and fathers are on equal footing in child custody and child visitation cases.

The perceived misconception may come from the fact that most parents decide child custody/visitation issues outside of the courtroom. The majority (over 90 percent) of all divorces involving child custody and child visitation end without a judge directly intervening at all. In 80 percent of the cases, the father agrees to give the mother custody of the children – usually on his own, without an attorney involved.

Of those cases that do go before a judge, the judge makes a child custody decision in favor of one parent or the other only 1.5 percent of the time. These statistics show little pattern of bias among judges in favor of either parent.

The best interests of the children

Generally, Maryland child custody laws require courts to determine child custody and child visitation cases by looking at what is in the best interest of the children. Courts will examine a number of criteria and factors to determine what is in the best interest of a child. Legally speaking, a father is in the same position as a mother when asking a court to make a child custody determination that is in his children’s best interest.

While some may have the conception that a child’s mother is more likely to get custody of a child if she asks a court for it, the reality may be that, in most cases, fathers agree to give the mother custody. For those situations where a father wishes to pursue custody of his children, he should be aware that he has equal rights and it is his responsibility to stand up for those rights.

By understanding the criteria the Maryland courts use to determine child custody and visitation, fathers (and mothers) can represent their interests, as well as those of their children, in family court. An experienced attorney can help parents understand the law and their rights under the law.

Source: Huffington Post, “Dispelling the Myth Of Gender Bias In The Family Court System,” Cathy Meyer, July 10, 2012

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