This week, our family lawyers discuss a Maryland woman who doesn't want her allegedly abusive ex-husband who has a convicted felon for a girlfriend to gain custody of their child.
The Question: How can you prevent the ex-husband (allegedly abusive) from getting any custody of children, especially when the live-in girlfriend is a convicted murderer who plead guilty to felony homicide?
How do I prevent my abusive husband from getting any custody? I normally wouldn't fight joint [custody], but I ran a background check on his live-in girlfriend & she is a convicted murderer. She plead guilty to felony homicide. I don't want her near my kids
Also, just because she plead to felony homicide does not mean that she actually killed anyone. Felony homicide is a distinctive crime that allows anyone involved in a felony to be charged with homicide if a death results from the felonious act.
When it comes to custody matters, Maryland courts look out for the child's best interest, and what is best for children is a relationship with both parents. Some circumstances would prevent a parent from obtaining custody, like incarceration. Or if a parent is convicted of murdering the other parent. Neither of those situations is in play with this question.
There are several factors judges look at when determining the best interest. They include who the primary caregiver is, character & reputation, ability to maintain family relationships, material opportunity, and child preference, to name a few.
Proof of the abuse is needed to show your ex's character flaws, so police reports, photos, or hospital records can do that. But, if there are only allegations of abuse, a judge will weigh that factor less with no proof.
Also, your child's father has family who is going to want a relationship with the child, such as grandparents, which means a judge won't tear a child away from family bonds. These family bonds are an essential part of growing up, and the parent better able to allow the family relationships to continue will have a better argument for primary custody.
Plus, situations don't stay the same, and custody orders are changeable. Your ex may not be with a felon girlfriend forever, which would eliminate one issue with custody that you have. And since you don't want her around your kids, there is always the option of supervised visitation. You will have to convince a judge that supervised visits are in the child's best interest for that to be ruled.
A conviction of felony homicide doesn't necessarily mean they intend to commit a murder, as Maryland law defines it as a charge anyone faces if a felony crime results in somebody dying. A drunk driver can face felony homicide if they caused an accident and a person dies in the wreck. That may well be the case for your ex's live-in girlfriend. More details regarding her conviction are needed to determine character.
In other words, to gain outright custody of your child, you need to show that it is in the child's best interest to be in your sole custodial care.
A good family lawyer helps to make the argument on your behalf based on evidence, circumstances, and any other important information you can provide. A lawyer knows the legal system and how to navigate it to your advantage. Having counsel represent you makes sure you have all your ducks in a row for your case.
From the sounds of it, there are more details about your specific case that need to be fleshed out to make an argument for sole custody. Remember, the child's best interest is the judge's primary consideration, so proving your custody is that best interest is integral to your case.
Our automatic disclaimer: We're lawyers, but not necessarily your lawyer, and do not represent the individual who asked this question. We're providing this information for general educational purposes based on the publicly available information provided by the anonymous Internet user. Any number of details may change how this individual's attorney may pursue this legal situation, differently from how we suppose above. If you have a similar question, then you should consult with a lawyer about your specific situation to get a "real" response!