Child custody hearings are among the most hotly contested and potentially volatile types of cases heard in the family. If you are involved in a battle over the custody of your child or children, we can aid you by representing you in a child custody dispute. We know how complex a divorce or separation can be, and we know that the stress of custody disagreements can add unwanted stress to your situation. Between our experienced Baltimore family law attorney and our knowledgeable legal staff, we will work with you to determine your personal goals for your child or children’s custody.
What Are My Rights In Child Custody Proceedings?
Child custody proceedings deal with the legal and physical custody and visitation of children, and are always conducted with the best interests of the child in mind. Your rights under the state’s child custody laws depend on the situation, and your relationship with the child or children involved. Under the rules and guidelines established by the Maryland family court, the following people may be entitled to seek custody on a full or part time basis or request visitation rights:
The child’s biological or adoptive parents: Parents may petition the court for either joint or sole custody of their children;
Grandparents: Grandparents have rights to custody and visitation provided there is evidence of parental unfitness or exceptional circumstances;
Interested third parties: Relatives and other third parties are held to the same standards and legal requirements of grandparents, in that they must show compelling evidence regarding the parent’s abilities to care for or provide for the child, or exceptional circumstances that warrant the situation.
Child custody proceedings arise in cases involving divorce, separation, child neglect or abuse, guardianship or paternity determinations, as well as in cases involving the termination of parental rights and protection from domestic violence. These proceedings either initiate with documents filed by your own attorney, by your spouse, or by other interested parties, including Child Protective Services.
What Happens In Maryland Child Custody Hearings?
Under Section 9.5-101 through 111 of the Maryland Code, custody cases begin with the first filing in the case, requesting child custody or a modification of an existing custody order. The initial paperwork is filed and proceedings are held in the state in which the child currently resides, and any order remains valid even in the event the child and their parent or parents move to another area.
In addition to deciding on whether one parent should have sole custody and authority in making decisions relating to the child, there are a variety of factors the court will consider in determining the best interests of the child, which include:
- The character, reputation, and moral fitness of the parents;
- The age, sex, and health of the child involved;
- The material advantages each parent has to offer;
- The ability to provide a stable home;
- The length of any separation that occurred between the child and their natural parents;
- The desire to maintain the natural parents as guardians;
- The actual preference of the child involved, provided they are old enough to make that determination;
- The parent’s demonstrated ability, both past and present, to care for and nurture the child’s health and emotional development.
Any determinations made regarding sole custody and visitation will likely be a factor in determining who gets child support and the portion that the non-custodial parent is required to pay. A parent with sole custody is also more likely to have authority in making decisions regarding the child’s religious upbringing, social activities, and education.
How Will The Judge Determine Who Gets Custody?
Children generally do best when both parents are actively involved with their upbringing. Under Maryland custody laws, joint custody is a viable option provided the parents are willing and able to cooperate with one another in caring for and making decisions affecting the child. Factors the court will consider in joint custody proceedings include:
- The willingness and fitness of each parent;
- Their ability to communicate with each other and reach mutual decisions about the child;
- Their geographical proximity to one another;
- Potential disruptions joint custody could have on the child’s activities;
- The financial status of each parent;
- The relationship between each parent and the child;
- The age and number of children involved, and their personal preference.
- What Should I Do If I Am Involved In A Child Custody Dispute?
In child custody disputes, your first step should be to contact an experienced family law attorney immediately. In addition to guiding you through the legal requirements of obtaining custody and filing custody related documents, your attorney can assist you with the following:
- Acting as a strong legal advocate on your behalf, to protect your rights in negotiations with the other parties involved;
- Negotiating custody settlements to avoid going to court;
- Protecting your parental rights and interests in dealings with Child Protective Services;
- Gathering and presenting evidence during custody proceedings;
- Making sure any custody orders issued by the court are enforced;
- Requesting modifications to existing orders as necessary.
Choose The Law Offices of Randolph Rice To Handle Your Child Custody Case
If you are involved in a custody case, contact the Law Offices of G. Randolph Rice, Jr. today. Through his own practice and his previous experience with the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office, Mr. Rice is respected in the legal community, and has the knowledge and skill you need in this type of situation. Benefits we offer include:
Results Oriented Representation
As your child custody law firm, we strive to provide you with optimum representation to attain your child custody goals. We’ll fight for your right to visit and care for your child or children, and we’ll fight to ensure you have adequate support for your guardianship.
Seek Optimum Custody, Visitation, & Support Rights
We know that you have your child’s best interests in mind. And we aim to aid you in ensuring that your child has proper support and safe, agreeable custody terms. You can count on our child custody attorney. Our child custody attorney will fight to ensure that you receive the custody rights, visitation rights, and/or financial support for your child or children.
We serve Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Howard, and Worcester Counties. Get the professional representation you need and call or contact our office online today to request a confidential case review.