If you’re a parent whose marriage is ending, you need an experienced Baltimore children and divorce attorney on your side. The family law attorneys at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates value our clients’ parent-child relationships and fight aggressively on their behalf. Learn more about Maryland’s laws concerning children and divorce below.
Maryland Child Custody and Visitation Laws
- Guide long-term, important decisions about a child’s health, welfare, education, and religious training,
- Spend time with a child, and
- Tend to a child’s daily physical, emotional, and other needs.
At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, we can help you understand your full range of custody rights.
Protecting the Best Interests of Your Child
Every custody agreement must focus on the best interests of your child. It’s always best if parents agree to the terms of their child custody agreement. However, some divorces are so contentious that a voluntary agreement is impossible. If mediation and alternative dispute resolution fail, you and your spouse will attend a court hearing and a judge will award custody. Maryland courts weigh a series of factors when assessing a child’s best interests, including:
- The child’s age, health, and gender,
- Each parent’s character,
- Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s physical, emotional, and financial needs,
- Both parents’ wishes,
- The child’s wishes (when appropriate), and
- Whether there is evidence of domestic violence or child abuse.
Additionally, the court will sometimes appoint a guardian ad litem, an expert who will assess your situation and speak on behalf of your child. If you have questions about the “best interests” analysis, contact us for more information.
Do the Courts Favor Mothers in Custody Disputes?
Maryland custody laws are gender-neutral and do not favor mothers. However, some judges do have subtle gender biases. If you are concerned about gender bias in a custody case, contact a children and divorce lawyer immediately.
Can I Get a Temporary Custody Order During my Divorce?
Before your divorce is final, you can request temporary custody (sometimes called “pendente lite”). A temporary child custody and visitation agreement might ease tensions during your divorce, since you will have clearly delineated custody rights.
What Is the Difference Between Joint Custody and Sole Custody?
In Maryland, parents can have either sole or joint custody.
- Sole custody: One person has full legal and physical custody of a child. The noncustodial parent might have visitation rights.
- Joint custody: The parents share responsibility for child-related decisions and care. Joint custody arrangements vary dramatically, depending on your circumstances and your child’s needs.
Contact a children and divorce attorney for a personalized assessment of your custody options.
What if my Ex Violates our Custody Order?
If your ex is clearly violating your child custody order, you should immediately contact your family law attorney. A parent that does not comply with a child custody order might face contempt of court or kidnapping charges. The court might also agree to restrict your ex’s time with your child.
Can I Change a Child Custody and Visitation Order?
You can ask the court to modify your custody agreement if there is a material change in your circumstances (such as a relocation or job change). Since modifying a custody order requires a detailed legal and factual analysis, contact a children and divorce attorney for assistance.
Maryland Child Support Laws
Parents have a legal obligation to support their children. While this is typically a non-issue during a marriage, child support is a common area of disagreement when a couple separates. In most situations, Maryland applies a series of state guidelines when calculating child support payments. A children and divorce attorney can guide you through these calculations.
Should I Continue Paying Child Support When My Ex Violates Our Custody and Visitation Agreement?
You should never stop paying child support without the court’s permission. If your ex violates your custody order, discuss your options with a Baltimore children and divorce attorney. You might be eligible a custody modification or other recourse.
Can I Change or Terminate My Duty to Pay Child Support?
If your situation has materially changed, you can ask the court to modify or terminate your support payments. This might occur if you become disabled, or one parent’s financial situation changes dramatically. Courts can either increase or decrease child support, depending on your circumstances.
My Ex Is Working Under the Table or Reducing His or Her Income to Avoid Support Payments. What Should I Do?
If you believe your ex is hiding income or voluntarily impoverished himself or herself, contact a family law attorney for assistance. A lawyer will assess your situation and might help you subsequently petition the court for an increase in your support payments.
Speak With a Children and Divorce Attorney
When you work with a children and divorce attorney at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, you can rest assured that your voice will be heard and your rights will be protected. We apply over two decades of family law experience to the benefit of our clients and their children. Contact us for a confidential assessment of your case.