Annapolis Child Custody Attorneys
Protecting Your Interests in Custody Disputes
Child custody is a sensitive and emotional subject. Determining where the children will spend their time is often the most contentious part of a divorce. If you are involved in a custody dispute, call Rice Law. Our Annapolis family attorney can explain the state laws that may apply to your situation and provide effective legal representation for your custody dispute.
Call our Annapolis child custody attorney today, and let us help you. We are ready to put our experience on your side.
Understanding Maryland's Custody Law
In Maryland, custody is based upon the best interest of the child. If parents are unable to come to an agreement on custody, it may be necessary to have the issue decided by the court.
The court must consider many factors, such as:
- Fitness of each parent
- Character and reputation of each parent
- Requests and sincerity of each parent
- Agreements between parties
- Willingness of each parent to share custody
- Each parents’ ability to maintain family relations
- Age and number of kids in each house
- Preference of child
- Capacity of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions
- Geographic proximity of the houses and opportunities for time with each parent
- Ability of each parent to maintain stable & appropriate home
- Financial status of each parent
- Demands of parental employment and opportunities for time with child
- Age, health and sex of child
- Relationship established between child and each parent
- Length of separation of parents
- Whether there was prior voluntary abandonment or surrender of custody
- Potential disruption of child’s social and school life
- Impact on state or federal assistance
- Benefit a parent may receive from joint physical custody and how that will enable the parent to bestow more benefit upon the child
Other factors that the court may consider are:
- Ability of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs, ensure physical safety; support emotional security and positive self-image; promote interpersonal skills; and promote intellectual and cognitive growth
- Ability of each parent to meet the child’s needs regarding education, socialization, culture, religion and mental and physical health
- Ability of each parent to consider and act on needs of child as opposed to their own needs and protect child from adverse effects of conflict between the parties
- History of any efforts by one parent to alienate or interfere with child’s relationship with the other parent
- Evidence of exposure of child to domestic violence
- Parental responsibilities and parenting tasks customarily performed by each party prior to and during litigation, including after orders and extent tasks have or will be undertaken by third parties
- Ability of each parent to co-parent without disruption to child’s social and school life
- Extent to which either party has engaged in frivolous or vexatious litigation
- Child’s possible susceptibility to manipulation by a party or others in terms of preferences stated by the child
- Fader’s citing Md Commission of Child Custody Decision Making
If reasonable grounds to believe child has been abused or neglected by a party:
- Court must make a finding that there is no further likelihood of abuse or neglect if unsupervised custody or access is awarded to that parent
When child custody is contested, the Court will conduct a hearing and will determine a custody arrangement for physical and legal custody, based upon child’s best interests. Our Annapolis attorneys combined have more than three decades of trial experience. We tirelessly prepare each case for court, in the event that the dispute cannot be resolved by agreement of the parties.
Types of Custody in Maryland
There are a few categories to consider regarding child custody in Maryland. These are legal custody, physical custody, joint custody, and sole custody.
Legal Custody – Legal custody is when a parent has the right and responsibility to make important long-term decisions for the child. These types of decisions include education, health, religious activities, etc.
Physical Custody – Physical custody refers to where the child will physically live. If one parent has sole physical custody of the child, it’s possible for the other parent to still have visitation rights. The following requirements must be met for physical custody to be shared:
- Both parents get a minimum of 128 overnight visits (this turns out to be 35% of the year)
- Both parents must contribute to the child’s expenses (this is apart from other awards/child support)
Joint Custody – Joint custody is when both parents share the custody of the child. The shared custody can be legal custody, physical custody, or both.
Sole Custody – This is when only one parent is awarded both legal and physical custody over the child.
For more questions regarding your child custody case, don’t hesitate to contact our firm. We will walk you through the process.
Modifying Child Custody
Child custody orders are never permanent. When situations change, rising to the level of a material change in circumstance, a parent may file a modification of custody with the court and request a change in the current custody arrangement. In addition, a child may petition the court at the age of 16 for a change in custody. If you need assistance with modifying the custody order for your child or children, our child custody lawyers in Annapolis can evaluate your situation and recommend the best way to proceed in your case.
If you need legal advice for a child custody dispute, please call (410) 709-8971 for an appointment.