As parents, Maryland affords us legal rights to spend time and contact our children, even after the relationship between the parents is over. Those rights are known as visitation; here is everything you need to know to ensure your time with your kids:
Visitation, establishing a parent's time with children post break-up;
Maryland awards four types of visitation rights, and not all are equal; And
Prove your worth by showing the court time with you is in the best interest of the child.
Sometimes, parents can work out a visitation arrangement amicably, but since divorces and break-ups are emotional, that does not always happen. When parents cannot agree on visitation, it takes the help of an experienced family lawyer to create or mediate a fair agreement for court approval.
In Maryland, the best interest of the child is a judge's primary concern when awarding visitation. Those interests include but aren't limited to whether there is a history of child abuse or domestic violence, work and school schedules, holidays, need for stability, health, and the children's wishes.
Visitation is a complex issue to handle as there are multiple people's schedules involved, and finding the correct times for the kids to be with their parents takes a lot of compromise and finagling. However, both parents want and deserve time with their children. Developing a plan to make that happen is all in the details.
Maryland courts have four kinds of visitation orders they can grant. The visitation given to the non-custodial parent depends on the state's primary concern, "the best interest of the children." Here are the visitation rights Maryland grants:
Fixed Visitation Schedule – The best schedule for parents who are not on good terms and want to minimize contact with one another. A fixed schedule set by the court determines the exact days and times the parents have visitation. An example of this kind of visitation schedule could be the non-custodial parent has the children on the weekends and every Wednesday evening from 4 PM to 8 PM.
Flexible/Reasonable Visitation Schedule – A flexible or reasonable schedule is dependent on both parents being amicable with one another post-divorce. These agreements allow the parents to maintain an active role in the children's lives and set up visitation specifics independently. These leave flexibility for adjustments when necessary. The custodial parent does have more control over where and when the visitation occurs in this arrangement.
Supervised Visitation Schedule – Visitation arrangements where supervision is required are usually cases where the non-custodial parent has some issues with anger, violence, and drug or alcohol abuse. It is in the best interest (there's that primary concern again) that the child sees their parent, but under the supervision of a social worker, counselor, or court liaison to ensure the child's well-being. Often, these visits occur at a neutral site or a visitation center. For the safety of all parties involved, the court may also order monitored drop-offs to prevent contact between the parents.
No Visitation – Maryland courts would rarely prevent a parent from contact with their child. Circumstances must be severe for a judge to issue a no visitation order. Essentially, the non-custodial parent is not in the best interest, and visitation would do more harm than good. In today's digital world, though, virtual visits are an opportunity in a no visitation order. To be barred from contact with your child, there must be proof the non-custodial parent is a danger to the child, like a history of abuse.
Our goal at JC Law is to get you the best possible visitation schedule, but much of the responsibility is on the parents. Therefore, it is how you portray your parental abilities and love for your children, resulting in a favorable visitation order.
Get the Best Visitation Possible, Prove You Are In The Best Interest of the Child
Remember, a judge makes their ruling based on the best interest of the child. Therefore, the best thing a parent can do is prove they are in the child's best interest. A relationship with both parents is just that, in the best interest, but not every person is willing to be a parent or a good parent.
Showing the court, you can care for your children and love them while compromising and resolving disputes with the other parent can prove you are in the best interest. Have respect for the other parent. It took both of you to have a child, so consider their feelings and wishes as you consider yours.
It is easier said than done, but maintaining your cool and a level head during the divorce, custody, or visitation hearings goes a long way in showing a judge that you are a responsible, well-adjusted individual ready to tackle single-parenthood.
We understand that every situation is unique and calls for different strategies. Sometimes the best visitation outcome in the present isn't the best in the future.
Parents who have drug or alcohol addictions may seek treatment and get sober. Before sobering up, a supervised visitation order may have been granted, but the parent would like unsupervised visitation now.
That is possible through a modification request and proving to the court that the problem causing supervised visitation is resolved. Everybody makes mistakes, but it doesn't make us bad people. How we learn and grow from our mistakes is the ultimate proof of responsibility for our actions and their consequences.
Spending time with your children is essential to not just you but them and their growth as people. JC Law is here to help you protect your visitation rights and work to get you the most time with your children. After all, they grow up way too fast. Contact us today for a free initial consultation about your visitation case.