Child Custody & Visitation Attorney in Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Child custody is always a major issue when partners dissolve their relationship. There are several paths to taking care of the child or children when the dissolution of a relationship occurs. There can be sole custody, joint custody, and other sharing relationships. There are also the issues of physical and legal custody—with whom does the child or children mostly reside and who is allowed to make legal decisions regarding schooling and healthcare, for example.
If there is any history of domestic abuse or violence, then a third-party supervisor may need to be present during visitation with the parent who is suspected of abuse. In any case, the issue of child custody and parenting rights can be resolved either through a joint agreement of the parents or through a court order if the parents can’t agree.
Maryland family courts, if the dissolution is decided in that way, always consider the best interests of the child or children in deciding custody and parenting time issues. The standards of what constitutes best interests can be open to interpretation. It is always more efficient and less costly for the two of you to agree to an uncontested divorce (if applicable). If you leave matters to a judge, both of you may not like the results.
If you’re considering or already in the process of divorce, or already have a child custody agreement that you want to modify, and you’re located in or around Anne Arundel County, Maryland, contact Kathleen M. Kirchner Attorney At Law.
Kathleen is a family law attorney who will aggressively protect your rights and negotiate or litigate for the best possible outcome in the dissolution of your relationship. Her firm proudly serves clients throughout Queen Anne's, Calvert, Prince George's, and Howard counties. Kathleen provides personalized, one-on-one service with the utmost compassion and consideration.
Establishing a Child Custody Arrangement
You have two options when it comes to the issue of child custody. One is largely DIY (do it yourself) and get court approval. The other is the more contentious route where the two of you battle it out in court. Obviously, the first one is the most efficient and cheapest, though you certainly would need the advice and negotiation skills of a family law attorney.
The first option is the route of an uncontested divorce, which means no courtroom battles. However, emotions, grudges, and other human factors can no doubt hinder the parenting agreement process. That’s why outside legal help or mediation is always advised. Issues to be resolved include which parent the child or children primarily reside with and what are the parenting rights of each parent. Weekends? Summers when school is out?
There is also the question of who makes legal decisions for the child or children, such as schooling and healthcare. Who pays for what? Should there be child or spousal support? Who keeps the family home is also a prime consideration.
If the two of you cannot resolve these issues on your own, then you are going to have to rely on a judge in a family law court. In Maryland, the basic standard that judges adhere to is, “What is in the best interest of the child or children?” Determining this will involve consideration of several factors, including:
the fitness of each parent, including their character and reputation
the financial ability of each parent affecting the child’s future
the possibility of retaining family relationships
the age, sex, and health of the child
the residences of each parent, including geographic proximity to the child’s best schooling, and also for terms of visitation and parenting rights
the child’s preference if they are old enough to make such a decision
the desires and wants of each parent regarding their young ones
In joint custody decisions, other factors can play a major role, including:
the ability of the parents to communicate with one another and make collaborative decisions
the child’s relationship with each parent
the demands of each parent’s job
the financial status of the parents
how the arrangement may affect the child’s social and school life
Custody and Visitation Rights/Parenting Time
If one parent is deemed the primary custodian and the other is given visitation rights (parenting time), the court will apply the same standard of what is in the best interests of the child or children. Here, if there have been any incidents of domestic violence, the court may order supervised visitation.
Modifying an Existing Child Custody Arrangement
If you are involved in an existing child custody arrangement, changes in your personal life may warrant a reconsideration of the terms, but the court will again make a ruling based on what is in the best interests of the child or children.
You must show that there has been a dramatic change in circumstances when requesting a modification. Perhaps one parent is suddenly unemployed or is being asked to relocate by their current employer, or one parent is just not living up to what the arrangement requires.
Note also that in Maryland, children who turn 16 can themselves request a change in custody, but again, the standard is that the change must be in the best interests of the child.
Child Custody Attorney Serving Anne Arundel County, Maryland
If you are considering divorce, in the process of dissolution, or already have a child custody agreement that you believe is being violated, reach out immediately to Kathleen M. Kirchner Attorney At Law if you are in or near Anne Arundel County. Kathleen will compassionately protect your rights and interests, whether in negations or in a family law hearing.